Last week, when writing about the upcoming Alibaba IPO (www.retailiation.com They came from the east), I predicted a new wave of retail investment washing into Western retail. And, as if by magic, Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo announced three moves in the last week: store expansions into Paris and Berlin and the potential acquisition of the UKs Cath Kidston.
But who are Uniqlo and what are their ambitions?
Picking up on an article on Reuters by Dominique Vidalon, Pascale Denis and Emma Thomasson (April 12th 2014), Uniqlo has over 1,300 stores worldwide including 856 in Japan, Uniqlo has focused its overseas expansion so far on China and South Korea, but is now accelerating a push into the United States and Europe. In the USA, Uniqlo has 17 stores today, they want around 100.
And Uniqlo is one of a stable of brands owned by Japan's Fast Retailing Co Ltd.
Already the fourth-largest apparel company in the world, whose brands also include Theory, J Brand, GU, Comptoir des Cotonniers and Princesse tam.tam stores, Fast Retailing have big ambitions and plan to quintuple revenue to 5 trillion yen ($49 billion), becoming the world's top fashion retailer by 2020.
"We have big goals in Europe - we would like to have the same business in Europe as in the U.S.” Yukihiro Katsuta, head of research and development for Uniqlo, told Reuters in an interview in Paris last week