NEW DELHI :
Japan’s wealthiest man and Uniqlo founder and chairman Tadashi Yanai, who runs the third largest apparel retailing company, Fast Retailing group, said it has made significant investments in India ahead of the brand’s maiden store launch.
Yanai, 70, who is in New Delhi for the store launch on Friday, said importing apparel, and setting up stores in India comes at a price. “I’m not at liberty of disclosing the numbers," he said, when asked about the company’s investments in India’s nearly $800-billion retail market.
“But you have a commitment—commitment means huge amount of investment. It is not only about having a store, but all about creating garments and transporting garments and listening to customers. Each one of these acts is very costly so it always involves a huge amount of investment," Yanai said in an interview on Thursday.
He added the 1.3 billion population, makes India an “extremely important" market for the company, as Fast Retailing, the world’s third-largest apparel retailer, takes on Inditex (which owns Zara) and H&M to sell more garments globally.
The store, spread over three floors at Delhi’s Ambience Mall, will offer the brand’s signature ultra light down jackets, basic T-shirts, formal wear, and apparel for kids.
Uniqlo will open two more stores in Delhi-NCR, as part of its multi-store launch strategy. But shoppers in other markets will have to wait as Uniqlo wants to get a firm footing in its NCR, and gauge shopper response before expanding to other cities. “At the moment we are single-handedly focusing on Delhi," Yanai said. “We would like to do a very good job in Delhi first. If our business is successful in Delhi, I’m sure other cities in India may come to us to open stores."
Uniqlo’s first store was opened in Hiroshima in 1984, and now has over 1,300 stores worldwide, and is a key player in Japan’s apparel market. Its minimalist styles, defined cuts, and designer associations, along with its use of high-tech fibre in some of its clothing draws shoppers from across the world.
In India, Uniqlo joins Sweden’s H&M and Spain’s Zara, which are increasingly chasing aspirational urban shoppers in India’s top cities. Yania said the firm is drawn to the Indian market for the long-term. “We wanted to listen to customers in India and based upon that we want to offer products."