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Fast Retailing: Japan's Biggest Apparel Retailer Goes Global
published in Issue 97, January 2002
Fast Retailing is Japan’s largest apparel retailer with over 500 stores under the Uniqlo brand name. Fast Retailing is also Japan’s fastest growing apparel retailer. During the three years to 2001/02, its revenue expanded by an average of 71.4% per annum.
The company’s aim is “to market low-priced clothing of superior quality”. Uniqlo stores offer basic fashion items which are versatile, emphasise individual taste, and can be combined with other brands.
To optimise its use of external resources, Fast Retailing entrusts materials procurement and production to trading companies such as Mitsubishi. And to minimise product costs, 80% of merchandise is made in China and 10% in South East Asia. The company also maintains a narrow product range with a wide customer appeal. This enables it to generate a high level of sales per item and to achieve economies of scale, thereby enabling it to reduce costs still further.
Analysts question how long the company can maintain its momentum. In October 2001 sales suffered their first monthly fall since March 1994. But leading analysts remain positive about the company’s future. The group certainly has ambitious plans for the long term. In particular, it aims to be the largest casualwear retailer in the world with sales in Japan of ¥1,000 bn and further sales of ¥1,000 bn overseas. To this end, it has embarked on an international expansion drive starting with the UK. Later in 2002, it plans to open its first stores in China.
Six times a year, Textile Outlook International provides up to 200 pages of expert comment and analysis. A subscription provides an overview of the global fibre, textile and apparel industries. It is essential reading for senior executives in the fibre, textile and apparel industries – and for anyone who is not involved in the industry, but needs to quickly gain an understanding of the key issues.
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