Uniqlo said it plans to take its European store count to 100 outlets over the next three years, in a bid to strengthen its retail presence outside of Asia.
In doubling its current store number from 50 to 100, the fast-fashion chain will make its first foray into Spain and Italy, according to local media.
A planned Barcelona location will mark Uniqlo’s entry into Spain this autumn, while a Milan store will open in Italy, according to a report by the Nikkei Review.
SEE ALSO: Uniqlo partners with J.W. Anderson
The Fast Retailing-owned brand already operates some 50 stores in France, Russia, Germany, the UK and Belgium.
The firm said it would be opening new locations in regional cities in some European countries too, those it is already selling in. This includes regional stores in smaller French cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse.
With the store openings in the EU, Uniqlo will be facing stiff competition from two global fast-fashion moguls. Namely Zara, which is operated by Spain’s Inditex, and Sweden’s H&M, both of which have a solid history on the continent and a loyal consumer following.
The Japanese chain told the Nikkei Review that demand for its highly functional basic apparel, however, is strong enough to warrant such fast-paced and vast expansion. This is particularly apparent now, given the Japanese firm’s domestic sales growth has plateaued.
“Overseas operations are what our growth hinges on,” said Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai.
However, Uniqlo is heavily reliant on Asia.
Overseas sales came to 655 billion yen in 2016, with China accounting for half of the firm’s fiscal 2016 revenues made in foreign markets.
Yanai said Uniqlo is eyeing global sales of 3 trillion yen ($26.6 billion) by the fiscal year ending August 2020. Japanese sales lifted just 3% to around 800 billion yen in fiscal 2016. Meanwhile, the number of stores in Japan has remained steady at around 840 for several years.