Asian Luxury Retail is Trying to Grow in the West

Although Asia dominates the production of textiles, their native brands like Uniqlo struggle to gain a foothold beyond.

Abel Amón. 29/09/2016

An example of this dynamic is Uniqlo, Japanese textile company belonging to the group Fast Retailing Co. and one of the leading fashion retail in Asia had at the end of last year with almost 1,700 stores, half in Japan and the rest abroad but with majority location in Asia, particularly in China where it has nearly 500 outlets.

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Uniqlo has half of its stores in Japan. Click to buy

One of his bets the company has been the Russian market. The company has two main shops in Russian cities. In Moscow Uniqlo opened its first store in 2010 and has just opened another (the twelfth in the country) in St. Petersburg, in the Raduga shopping complex. It is part of its international expansion beyond Asia, which focused its efforts on the US market.

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Uniqlo has special collections for the French market. Click to discover

Conquering the US market.
In 2005 Uniqlo launched in the US market there offering their original multicolored designs and opened three outlets in major shopping centers outside New York. It was not a very lucky  bet there and the company had to close one of those stores. He recently closed one of its selling points remaining and still seems far from being profitable in the US.

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Ines de la Fressange

Perhaps cultural barriers, different tastes and even different sizing , make a popular brand in Japan, its country of origin, have problems to fit in a market like the US. On the other hand, the fact that Uniqlo invest in high technology for both their designs to the very special materials used to give their products a more quality makes these relatively more expensive than those of GAP, Zara and Primark , its main competitors.

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Uniqlo collection autumn / winter kids. Click to buy

Opting for e-commerce.
Uniqlo is increasing resources in this type of distribution, but is difficult to compete with the convenience and delivery costs of Amazon in this area. Consider that even Alibaba ´s a  giant Chinese online  sales  have difficulties with some success to keep their online fashion portals. However, ecommerce  store Uniqlo has great success in Japan. The group Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, is currently the world’s fourth after Inditex, H & M and the GAP. It  had a turnover in 2015 of 12 billion euros, representing 21% growth over the previous year and a net profit of 850 million, an increase of 31%.

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Uniqlo collection autumn / winter man. Click to buy

Absent in Spain.
Paradoxically  there  are not  still Uniqlo stores in Spain. The Japanese company, founded by Tadashi Yanai, who has been called the Amancio Ortega Japanese, had failed to start its business in our country, but finally the group  will open a store in 2017 in Barcelona´s  Paseo de Gracia , ​​site chosen after months of doubts to decide between Barcelona and Madrid. A company that has triumphed in our country, as a Asian brand  is Mulaya, though  placed in another segment that has nothing to do with the premium and therefore, it is a different story.

Uniqlo tienda

Disclosure: The Luxonomist is not responsible for the views expressed in the article. The text has been written freely expressing their own ideas, without receiving any compensation. The author has no business relationship with any of the companies whose shares are listed in this article.

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