Retail in Asia

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Japan’s Uniqlo fashions a plan to beat retail rivals


Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo has leveraged its prowess in mass production to build a fashion empire filled with shelves upon shelves of affordable, good quality items like down jackets, underwear and T-shirts.

Now the 17-nation, 1734-store retailer is on a quest to beat Western giants like Gap, H & M and Zara to become the world’s biggest apparel maker.

In the overcrowded, highly competitive casual fashion market, size is important but no guarantee of success: analysts say Uniqlo’s challenge is to carve out a brand identity of its own, going beyond its formula of delivering no-nonsense quality at good prices.

“To win over consumers and break through the clutter, Uniqlo needs to get even more personal,” says Stuart Green, chief executive of Asia Pacific at Interbrand, which consults and ranks brands.

“It will be critical for Uniqlo to maintain product quality and, most importantly, create a deeper, more emotional connection with its customers to drive brand loyalty,” he said.

Interbrand ranks Uniqlo as Japan’s most valuable retail brand, and eighth among Japan’s global brands, including Toyota, Sony and Nintendo. The company’s founder and chief, Tadashi Yanai, is Japan’s richest man, according to Forbes magazine.

Analysts say that to move it its next stage of growth, Uniqlo also needs to beef up its digital presence and adapt to non-Asian markets.

After opening its first store in Melbourne in 2014, Uniqlo now has 11 stores in Australia — five in NSW, three in Queensland and three in Victoria.

(Source: The Australian )