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Uniqlo owner targets 1.2 billion people with first India store

Lisa Du and P R Sanjai

Bloomberg

| Wed, May 9, 2018 | 05:07 pm
Uniqlo owner targets 1.2 billion people with first India store

India is the latest in a string of new markets for Uniqlo worldwide, following earlier announcements to open stores in Sweden and the Netherlands in the fall this year. (Bloomberg/Buddhika Weerasinghe)

Fast Retailing Co., owner of the Uniqlo casual-wear brand, will open its first store in India next year as Asia’s largest retailer looks to tap consumers in a country with more than 1.2 billion people.

The Japanese company’s opening of a New Delhi store in the autumn of 2019 has been long in the making. Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing’s founder, had sought access to the Indian market as far back as 2011. The company, which will set up a wholly owned subsidiary in India, will initially focus on expanding its presence in the capital region, it said in a statement Wednesday.

The entry in India is a “significant step in our company’s global strategy,” Chief Executive Officer Yanai said in the statement.

India is the latest in a string of new markets for Uniqlo worldwide, following earlier announcements to open stores in Sweden and the Netherlands in the fall this year. Last month, the retailer notched its second straight quarter in which Uniqlo’s international sales topped domestic revenue as Yanai has focused on overseas locations.

Read also: Uniqlo places clothing vending machines in U.S. airports, malls

Fast Retailing had submitted an application to the government in November requesting approval to do business in the country. Earlier this year, the government scrapped the need for single-brand retailers to get permissions before starting operations.

The Uniqlo owner’s entry will follow Inditex SA’s Zara and Hennes & Mauritz AB in an apparel market that’s forecast by Euromonitor International to grow 29 percent to 3.76 trillion rupees ($56 billion) by 2021. Inditex opened a flagship Zara shop in Mumbai in May 2017, and subsequently started online sales in India.

Faced with the slowest growth since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pitching India to foreign investors. His government has made it easier for foreign investment in several sectors, including real estate brokerages and power exchanges apart from retail.

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