Japan’s Uniqlo takes plunge in uncertain India retail market

Tadashi Yanai, founder and president of Japanese retail giant Uniqlo, speaks during the opening of the company's first Indian store in New Delhi. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2019

Japan’s Uniqlo takes plunge in uncertain India retail market

  • The Uniqlo outlet, one of more than 2,000 across the world, is spread over 3,250 square meters
  • However, India is notorious for its price-sensitive consumers

NEW DELHI: Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo on Friday opened its first store in India, one of its largest worldwide, becoming the latest global retailer to plunge into the huge but tough developing market.
The South Asian nation, with its 1.3 billion population and a burgeoning middle-class, is viewed by global brands as a major prize but weak consumer demand has hit the economy in recent months.
The Uniqlo outlet, one of more than 2,000 across the world, is spread over 3,250 square meters — and almost next to global rival Sweden’s H&M in an upmarket mall in New Delhi.
“I’m not worried,” the billionaire founder of Uniqlo’s operator Fast Retailing, Tadashi Yanai, said Thursday ahead of the opening, the first of three planned in and around the Indian capital.
“Fast Retailing has long wished to open stores in India, in view of the tremendous potential of a nation of 1.3 billion people ... (with) an average age of 27,” he added in a speech.
Uniqlo is among more than 300 international fashion brands expected to open stores in India in the next two years, according to a November report by consultancy McKinsey and the Business of Fashion trade publication.
McKinsey said that the vast nation’s apparel market was forecast to be worth $59.3 billion in 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world.
However, India is notorious for its price-sensitive consumers, while ethnic wear still infuses much of local fashion, particularly among women.
Uniqlo is attempting to address the second point by including for the Indian market a “Kurta collection” created in collaboration with an Indian designer.
But on price, Uniqlo so far appears to be selling its clothing at similar levels as in the United States and Australia, and more expensive than in Malaysia.
One signature item, a women’s ultralight down vest for women, retails at 3,490 rupees ($49.10) compared to $49.90 in the US and 149.90 ringgit ($35.80) in Malaysia.
“India is a highly competitive market, and a lot of global brands are already here, along with many successful home-grown brands,” Edelweiss Securities analyst Abneesh Roy told The Print news website.
“Uniqlo is definitely entering late, and it will not be easy.”
On Friday around 500 shoppers of a mix of ages queued up to enter the new store when it opened, with Yanai there to welcome them.


World should back Vision 2030 strategy says global risk guru

Updated 22 November 2019

World should back Vision 2030 strategy says global risk guru

  • Ian Bremmer: When I see how much more dynamic Riyadh is compared to two years ago, it’s really undeniable that they are actually trying to modernize society
  • Bremmer: They are hosting the G20, and that could help to make them confident enough to push forward on a resolution to the Qatar issue

BEIJING: The world should back Saudi Arabia’s transformation strategy under Vision 2030 despite the challenges the Kingdom has faced, according to Ian Bremmer, one of the leading political risk advisers in the world.

“When I see them moving toward Saudization, when I see how much more dynamic Riyadh is compared to two years ago, it’s really undeniable that they are actually trying to modernize society. I think that’s really important and we should all be rooting for that process to continue,” he told Arab News on the sidelines of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing.

He said that the ongoing reforms in the Kingdom were helping it rebuild its international reputation following criticism over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. “They are hosting the G20, and that could help to make them confident enough to push forward on a resolution to the Qatar issue.”

“It would be nice if there could be some reduction in the problem with Qatar, and some reintegration of the GCC, and there has been some progress toward that. The fact that we have a peace deal in south Yemen, that will make a difference too, and hopefully it will reduce some of the tension with Iran as a consequence,” he added.

Bremmer was speaking about climate change and other issues at the forum, at a session that acknowledged the difficulty of meeting targets to get rid of fossil fuels by the year 2050. He also talked about the looming “technology wars” between China and the US.