Uniqlo

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Uniqlo Co., Ltd.
株式会社ユニクロ
Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Fashion
Retail
Founded Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan
1949; 69 years ago (1949)
Headquarters Midtown Tower, Akasaka
9-chome, Minato, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Tadashi Yanai (Chairman, President & CEO)
Takahiro Wakabayashi (Senior Vice President)
Products Clothing
Number of employees
30,000 (2008)
Parent Fast Retailing
(2005–present)
Website uniqlo.com

Uniqlo Co., Ltd. (株式会社ユニクロ, Kabushiki-gaisha Yunikuro) (US: /ˈjuːnikl/ YOO-nee-kloh;[1] Japanese: [jɯɲikɯɾo]) is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer.[2] The company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.[3] The company operates in Japan and several other countries.[4]

History[edit]

Uniqlo flagship store in Shinsaibashisuji, Osaka

Origins in Japan[edit]

Since March 1949, a Yamaguchi-based company, Ogori Shōji (which, until then, had been operating men's clothing shops called "Men's Shop OS") existed in Ube, Yamaguchi.[5]

In May 1984, they opened a unisex casual wear store in Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima under the name "Unique Clothing Warehouse".[citation needed] Initially, from the contraction of "unique clothing", the brand was going to register under "uni-clo".[citation needed] However, in 1988, during administration work between Hong Kong in relation to the brand, staff in charge of registration misread the "C" as "Q", and that is how the brand name was born.[citation needed] From then, Tadashi Yanai changed the store name to "uniqlo" across Japan.[6] In September 1991, the name of the company was changed from "Ogori Shōji" to "Fast Retailing", and by April 1994, there were over 100 Uniqlo stores operating throughout Japan.[citation needed]

Private-label strategy[edit]

In 1997, Fast Retailing adopted a set of strategies from American retailer The Gap, known as "SPA" (for specialty-store/retailer of private-label apparel), meaning that they would produce their own clothing and sell it exclusively.[citation needed] They engaged the retail brand consultancy, CIA, Inc. / The Brand Architect Group, to guide the company through the realization of this strategy, including consulting on merchandise, visual merchandising and display, store design and a new logo designed by Richard Seireeni and Sy Chen of The Brand Architect Group's Los Angeles office.[citation needed] Uniqlo had begun outsourcing their clothing manufacturing to factories in China where labour was cheap, a well-established corporate practice.[citation needed] Japan was in the depths of a recession at the time, and the low-cost goods proved popular.[citation needed] Their advertising campaigns, clothing quality and new retail layouts also proved fruitful.[7]

In November 1998, they opened their first urban Uniqlo store in Tokyo's trendy Harajuku district, and outlets soon spread to major cities throughout Japan.[citation needed] In 2001, sales turnover and gross profit reached a new peak, with over 500 retail stores in Japan.[citation needed] When Uniqlo decided to expand overseas, it separated Uniqlo from the parent company,[1] and established Fast Retailing (Jiangsu) Apparel Co., Ltd. in China. In 2002 their first Chinese Uniqlo outlet was opened in Shanghai along with four overseas outlets in London, England.[citation needed]

2005 saw more overseas expansion, with stores opening in the United States (New York City), Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui) and South Korea (Seoul), their South Korean expansion being part of a joint venture with Lotte.[citation needed] As of year-end 2005, in addition to its overseas holdings, Uniqlo had around 700 stores within Japan.[citation needed] By 2006 sales were $4 billion.[1] By April 2007, the company had set a global sales goal of $10 billion and a ranking among the top five global retailers, joining what at the time was Gap, H&M, Inditex, and Limited Brands.[1]

Fast Retailing signed a design consulting contract for Uniqlo products with fashion designer Jil Sander in March 2009.[8] Shiatzy Chen has been approached by Uniqlo to produce a capsule collection of ready to wear pieces to launch in November 2010 while Asia's largest Uniqlo store outside Japan opened its doors in Kuala Lumpur in the same month.[citation needed]

Uniqlo jeans at their Tokyo store

On September 2, 2009, Fast Retailing announced that the company would target annual group sales of 5 trillion yen (approx. US$61.2 billion) and pretax profit from operations of 1 trillion yen (approx. US$12.2 billion) by 2020. This means that the company is aiming to become the world's biggest specialty retailer of private label apparel with a continuous growth rate of 20% per year. The figure breaks down as one trillion yen from Uniqlo's Japan business, three trillion yen from its international business, and one trillion yen from "Japan-related and global brand business."[clarify] The company's international business target breaks down as one trillion yen in China, one trillion in other Asian countries and one trillion in Europe and the United States.[9]

International operations[edit]

As of 31 August 2017, the company reports that 1920 Uniqlo stores were in operation worldwide.[10]

Australia[edit]

Uniqlo opened its first stores in Queensland in late 2015, with the introduction of two Brisbane stores at the Queen Street Mall and the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.[11]

Bangladesh[edit]

Uniqlo started their first store at the New Elephant Road in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 5 July 2013. Uniqlo is known as Grameen Uniqlo there due to their social business concept JV with Grameen Bank. There are currently 16 stores in Dhaka city.

Belgium[edit]

The first Belgian Uniqlo store opened in October 2015 at Meir, Antwerp.[12] A second store followed suit at the Wijnegem Shopping Center on March 25 in the same year.[13] October 19th, 2017 saw the opening of a third store in Brussels.[14]

Canada[edit]

UNIQLO in Canada

Uniqlo opened their first Canadian store at the Toronto Eaton Centre in September 2016, followed by a second store at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in October 2016.[15] Measuring at 28,000 and 24,000 square feet, both stores are five times the size of the Muji store that opened in Toronto in 2014.[16] A third Canadian store, the first outside of Ontario and the first in Western Canada, opened at Burnaby's Metropolis at Metrotown in October 2017 [17] to be followed by Surrey's Guildford Town Centre[18] and Richmond Centre[19] in Richmond, BC. There will also be a new store opening in Edmonton's West Edmonton Mall in 2018.[citation needed] Four new stores will open in Markham’s CF Markville, Vaughan’s Vaughan Mills, Mississauga’s Square One Shopping Centre, and Coquitlam’s Coquitlam Centre in Fall 2018.[20]

China[edit]

Uniqlo in Sanlitun, Beijing, China

Uniqlo entered the Chinese mainland market in 2002. As of August 2017, there were 555 stores in China, including in Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Shijia, Tianjin and Xi'an.[21]

In May 2011, the magazine Shukan Bunshun[clarification needed] published a story alleging that Uniqlo had forced employees at its stores and factories in China to work long hours for little pay. In response, Uniqlo unsuccessfully sued the weekly's publisher, Bungeishunjū, for ¥220 million for libel.[22][23]

A 2015 online video of a couple having sex in a Beijing Uniqlo store changing room became notorious among Chinese internet users. Chinese police arrested at least five people in connection with the incident, allegedly including the couple and three other disseminators of the video, for having 'severely violated socialist core values'.[24] The New York Times noted that the store's exterior had become a popular venue for people to gather and take pictures in poses reminiscent of the video.[25]

Hong Kong SAR[edit]

Uniqlo has 27 stores in Hong Kong SAR as of May 2018.[26]

France[edit]

On November 17, 2014, Uniqlo opened its first store in Eastern France (and the second store in France outside Greater Paris) in the city of Strasbourg.[27]

Germany[edit]

Their German flagship store opened on 11 April 2014 at Tauentzienstraße, Berlin.[28]

India[edit]

Uniqlo is set to open a store in India in 2019, as the company announced on May 9, 2018.[29] The company will set up a wholly owned subsidiary in India.[30]

Malaysia[edit]

In fall of 2010, Uniqlo opened its first store in Malaysia in Fahrenheit 88[31][32] located in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur . Uniqlo now has 47 outlets located across Malaysia.[33]

Singapore[edit]

In April 2009, Uniqlo opened its first store at Tampines 1.[34] Its first flagship store in Singapore and Southeast Asia opened 7 years later on September 2, 2016 at Orchard Central.[35] As of 2017, Uniqlo has 25 stores located island wide.[36]

South Korea[edit]

In November 2011, Uniqlo generated more than 2 billion won ($1.7 million) in one day's sales on November 11 when it opened Asia's largest flagship store in central Seoul. The sales figure was the highest ever set by a fashion outlet in Korea.[37]

Taiwan[edit]

Uniqlo has 67 store fronts in Taiwan as of June 2018.[38]

Thailand[edit]

In September 2011, Uniqlo opened its first store at CentralWorld. Its largest flagship store in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Uniqlo has 38 store fronts in Thailand as of February 2018.[39]

Philippines[edit]

Uniqlo opened stores at SM City Fairview on June 14 and Glorietta on June 28, 2013.[40]

Uniqlo Philippines COO Katsumi Kubota said that the company is opening at least 200 outlets in the country by 2020, when he was interviewed at the SM City Clark during the third anniversary of the global retail brand. It started with five branches three years ago and now has 27 stores.[41]

Uniqlo has 47 stores in the Philippines as of February 2018. [42]

The Philippine flagship store of Uniqlo, located in Glorietta 5, is scheduled to open on the 5th of October, 2018. [43]

Spain[edit]

Uniqlo began operations in Spain in 2016[44]with its on-line store and in September 2017 opened its flagship store in Barcelona [45](Passeig de Gràcia). Nowadays, it also owns a second store in Barcelona.

United Kingdom[edit]

Ambitious expansion plans in the early 2000s were reversed, with 16 stores being closed in 2003,[46] including those in Manchester,[47] Coventry,[48] and Leicester.

United States[edit]

Uniqlo's flagship store in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile

In November 2006, Uniqlo opened its first store in the SoHo fashion district of Manhattan, New York City. New fashion designers joined the store's team to boost and rebirth fashion concepts catering to the US market.[49]

As part of Fast Retailing's 2020 plan the company has stated that it plans to generate $10 billion in annual sales in the United States from 200 stores, which will lead to a location in every major U.S. city. This goal was stated when the company's only U.S. presence was its handful of stores in the New York City area,[50] soon after the company began an expansion in the United States.

In October 2015, Uniqlo opened its first store in the Midwest with a Chicago store on Michigan Avenue.[51]

Labour rights[edit]

In January 2015, a number of labour rights violations were reported at Uniqlo suppliers in China.[52][53][54][55] Uniqlo pledged to remedy the violations.[56][57]

In June 2015, Uniqlo factory workers went on strike in relation to lay-offs.[58][59]

In November 2015, investigations into the measures Uniqlo introduced in the wake of the January 2015 revelations found that Uniqlo's remedies had been only partially successful, with significant violations continuing to occur.[60][61]

In October 2016 the report 'This Way to Dystopia: Exposing UNIQLO’s Abuse of Chinese Garment Workers'[62] by SACOM and War on Want claimed that it was still the case that "excessive overtime, low pay, dangerous working conditions and oppressive management" were common in Uniqlo factories in China and Cambodia.

Notable projects[edit]

"Art for All" partnership with Jeffrey Deitch[edit]

Launching on January 20, 2017 “Art for All” is a partnership with New York art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch. The project is centered around the sale of 65 limited-edition products made by commissioned artists such as Marie Roberts, Starlee Kine and Ken Kagami. With a focus on making the collecting of artworks available to a larger audience, the items on sale will all be available for under $100.[63]

Awards[edit]

The German fashion designer Jil Sander joined Uniqlo in 2009, and was appointed creative director of the brand's menswear and womenswear - as well as launching a new label, +J collection, which won 2011 Brit Insurance Design Fashion Award.[64]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "About Uniqlo | UNIQLO". www.uniqlo.com. Retrieved 2018-03-11. 
  3. ^ "Group Companies | FAST RETAILING CO., LTD". www.fastretailing.com. Retrieved 2018-03-11. 
  4. ^ "For Tadashi Yanai, nothing less than being No. 1 will do- Nikkei Asian Review". asia.nikkei.com. 
  5. ^ "1949-2003 | FAST RETAILING CO., LTD". www.fastretailing.com. Retrieved 2018-03-11. 
  6. ^ "寫錯公司名 將錯就錯作品牌". mpfinance.com. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. 
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  9. ^ Kensuke Kojima (2011). Uniqlo Syndrome. Toyo Keizai Shinpo Sha. ISBN 4-492-76191-8 Tenkai Japan. ASIN: B004PYDPOK.
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