Jap label opens RP flagship store
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo successfully opened its flagship store at the SM Mall of Asia over the weekend. This makes the Philippines the 12th country outside of Japan where the label has presence after opening stores in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
Uniqlo is a brand of Fast Retailing Co. (FR), a leading global Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing under five labels that include Comptoir des Cotorriers, Princess tamtam, Theory and Gu. FR is the world’s fourth largest apparel retail company and Uniqlo is Japan’s leading specialty retailer.
FR chairman, president & CEO Tadashi Yanai flew in from Tokyo to attend the unveiling ceremonies. The Japanese executive, named by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest, expressed confidence in the Philippine market’s dynamism. “With such high potential, I’m looking forward to opening more stores in and around your country. We plan to open 50 more stores in three years all over the Philippines. Our opening in Manila will enable us to open our windows to other Asian markets,” intoned Yadai-san in Nihongo, through an interpreter who related his remarks in English. The statement was made by FR’s top honcho in a press conference in front of members of both Philippine and Japanese media-men, who gathered to find out his economic vision for the brand in the country.
“To Pres. PNoy, I wish to convey my appreciation for letting our company do business in the Philippines and for supporting enterprises like ours. I hope that the Philippines and Japan remain in good relations always.
“There’s just a few sad news these days. First, Manny Pacquiao lost in Las Vegas and Rafael Nadal won the French Open by beating the world’s No. 1 tennis player. But the good news is that Uniqlo welcomes everybody to our opening to make it memorable,” he added.
Yanai-san believes in the value that Uniqlo will offer to Filipino consumers through its great and unique clothing line. He knows the brand will be liked by many fashion-loving Pinoys and will make it the No. 1 fashion brand in the Philippines; eventually to become number one in Asia and ultimately, number one in the world.
When asked why it took the label quite a while to reach our shores, his curt reply was because “the Philippines is a little farther compared to the rest of Asia.” The Southeast Asian region offers enormous growth potential for Uniqlo and is a key regional focus of the brand’s global expansion strategy. Uniqlo opened its first store in Thailand on September 2011, following its successful expansion into Singapore and Malaysia; increasing its portfolio in the region to 15 retail locations.
Uniqlo blazed the trail in the global apparel industry by introducing innovative and highly functional clothes like AIRism, an undergarment that provides cool comfort to the wearer; Dry Pique Polo, a shirt that quickly dries body sweat; and UV Cut, a clothing line with SPF, to protect wearers from harmful sun rays. The company is also known for its ‘Made For All’ philosophy, a vision that seeks to provide casual clothing that’s made for all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or any other way that defines an individual. “We care for the disabled and hire them as part of our personnel,” Yadai-san said after four Caucasian protesters made a slight ruckus. They were campaigning against sheep slaughter.
With more than 1,100 stores globally, Uniqlo continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world’s most important cities and locations, as part of an on-going effort to solidify its status as a truly global brand. “We are now enjoying our 20th year in the business as an innovative Japanese clothing company by giving our consumers the satisfaction of wearing premier clothing. Our aim is to be No. 1 by the year 2020. We hope to not just be the top consumer brand in sales but also the favorite apparel brand in every country in Asia and the whole world,” declared company COO Katsumi Kubota.
For more information about Uniqlo and other FR group companies, simply visit www.uniqlo.com and/or www.fastretailing.com.