Fast Retailing Co plans to operate 200 Uniqlo stores on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong within five years as the region is set to overtake Japan as its largest sales generator by 2017.
About 80 percent of the stores will be in the mainland, Senior Vice President Tiger Pan Ning said, according to a Bloomberg News report yesterday. Fast Retailing, Asia's biggest clothing retailer, has five stores in Hong Kong and 10 in the mainland.
The casual clothing chain is tapping the world's fastest growing major economy as sales stall in its home market, which accounts for about 90 percent of total revenue. Fast Retailing's sales from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong will double every year to about seven billion yuan (US$939 million) by 2012, Pan said.
"Sales growth in Japan is very limited as the population is shrinking," Pan, also the managing director of the Uniqlo Hong Kong unit, said last week. "The group is shifting focus to Asia, especially to China, as the booming middle class is driving up spending."
China's retail sales and economy have grown at more than 10 percent since March 2006, with the world's most populous nation expected to overtake Germany as the world's third-biggest economy this year. Japan's retail sales increased 0.5 percent in August and September from a year earlier.
Fast Retailing is following other retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Carrefour SA and Japan's Aeon Co in seeking to boost revenue by expanding in China.
Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, aims to more than double its 84 stores in China during the next five years. Carrefour, Europe's largest, aims to add 25 outlets a year from a present total of about 100.
Aeon, Japan's second-biggest retailer, plans to invest up to 15 billion yuan to establish 100 outlets in China by 2012.
(Shanghai Daily November 6, 2007)