Japanese apparel giant Fast Retailing is eyeing massive expansion in Asia-Pacific.
The Uniqlo Southeast Asia and Oceania store network is set to double by 2022 to about 400 stores, Fast Retailing’s group senior VP Satoshi Hatase said in an interview.
The company plans an emphasis on stand-alone suburban stores as it expands its Southeast Asian footprint, seeking to move beyond its traditional shopping mall locations.
“We opened our first roadside store in Asean in Thailand in March, and it has been a huge success,” he said, adding that stand-alone stores in suburban locations were the key to Uniqlo’s original growth in Japan.
Regionally, Uniqlo has now reached a level of recognition where “the timing is right” for suburban stores, he said.
Fast Retailing executives in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are talking with leasing agents to identify suitable sites for such stores.
In Southeast Asian markets, middle- and high-income consumers are the ones which will fuel the Japanese company’s growth.
“Lower-income people cannot buy Uniqlo [yet],” Hatase said. But in 10 years, “a significant number of Asean people will be able to”.
Fast Retailing has previously said it aimed to triple its sales in the region to 300 billion yen (US$2.7 billion) in the year to the end of August 2022. Last year’s regional sales were 100 billion.
Fast Retailing already has stores in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. Its next target in the region is Vietnam.
“We want to have stores in all countries [in the region],” Hatase said, especially Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.