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Uniqlo to match Zara in speed-to-store stakes, wants to eventually overtake rival

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing is to speed up its fashion supply to stores in a bid to overtake powerful rival, Inditex-owned Zara.

Fast Retailing plans to shorten the time it takes from design to delivery to about 13 days, roughly the same as Zara, Uniqlo’s owner Tadashi Yanai said at the company’s new design and delivery centre in Tokyo.

The new complex will also help Uniqlo expand direct-to-consumer, custom-clothing sales and improve the efficiency of its same-day delivery in the Tokyo area, he said.

“The ability to provide anybody, anywhere, anytime with the ultimate, high-quality day-to-day clothing will set us apart,” he said. “We want to deliver products that customers want quickly. That’s why it’s Fast Retailing.”

Uniqlo aims to increase total revenue by nearly 70% to ¥3trn ($26bn) in the fiscal year ending August 2021.

“While that may still not be enough to overtake Inditex, which reported sales of $25bn in 2016,” Yanai said: “Zara sells fashion rather than catering to customers’ needs… We will sell products that are rooted in people’s day-to-day lives, and we do so based on what we hear from customers.”

Overseas markets will grow to contribute about two-thirds of Fast Retailing’s revenue in the next four years, up from about half.

Uniqlo will open 100 new stores in China and another 100 in Southeast Asia annually, Yanai said.

In the US, where Fast Retailing has so far struggled to make a profit, it will close stores in second- and third-tier shopping malls and relocate some of them to premium locations in order to lift its brand image.

“Store numbers will decline as a result,” Yanai said.


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