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New Delhi: Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo Co. Ltd has started hiring candidates in India and training them for its store management programme, ahead of its scheduled store launch in the fall of 2019 in Delhi.

“We are very excited about entering into India, and can confirm that Uniqlo is aiming to open its first store in India in Delhi-NCR in Fall 2019. In preparation of the opening, the company is now working at full speed in building up a team with various functions and levels, especially in recruiting local talents under its Uniqlo Manager Candidate (UMC) programme," a company spokesperson said in an email.

The retailer’s UMC programme, which trains people for store manager positions, includes training in Uniqlo’s overseas offices for a few months. “The company is currently training new recruits in Japan," said a person familiar with the company’s hiring plans for the market.

For its UMC hiring, it has roped in the local arm of Japanese recruitment agency Pasona India, said the person mentioned above.

The retailer has also hired former Procter & Gamble (P&G) executive Shantanu (who doesn’t use a surname) to head the brand’s marketing operations in India.

Shantanu joined the company in January, according to his LinkedIn profile, and has worked across P&G’s India, Singapore, and China businesses on brands such as Tide and Head & Shoulders.

In May 2018, Uniqlo, owned by Japanese retailer Fast Retailing Co. Ltd, had appointed Satoshi Hatase (Fast Retailing Group senior vice-president) as its India representative and said it will open its first store in India in fall of 2019. The company would thus join the list of major global single-brand retailers, after Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Ikea of Sweden AB, to set up shop in India under a 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) route.

The retailer is in talks to open its first store in the capital in an upmarket mall in South Delhi before it expands to other markets, said another person privy to Uniqlo's India launch. “For now they want to open one store and see what products sell before entering other cities," said another person in know of Uniqlo’s plans for India.

In 2016, Uniqlo also set up an India sourcing office in Bengaluru and has started sourcing clothing for its overseas stores.

Founded by Japanese billionaire Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing is the world’s third largest fashion apparel retailer after Spain’s Inditex and Swedish retailer H&M.

With more than 3,445 stores world over, Uniqlo is the largest brand of Fast Retailing, which also runs fashion labels such as GU, Theory, and Comptoir des Cotonniers. For the year ended August 2018, Fast Retailing posted a consolidated revenue of 2,130 billion yen.

In Japan, where Uniqlo runs more than 800 stores, the brand accounts for 6.5% of the country’s apparel market, according to information available on the company’s website. Globally, Uniqlo is present in markets such as the UK, China, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and Russia among others.

The brand, which first opened in Hiroshima in 1984, has been expanding its presence outside Japan. In 2018, the company said it will add more than 100 stores in the Greater China region. India, with its large youth population and a growing market for foreign western wear, is clearly attractive for Uniqlo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suneera Tandon

Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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