Four years after Uniqlo entered the Indian market, the Japanese fast fashion brand finally opened its doors in Mumbai. In Uniqlo’s four years of operations in India, the brand is now 10 stores strong in north India. Now coming to the western side of the country with two stores – one at Phoenix Market City and the other at the Oberoi Mall - is a special milestone moment for the brand. “We are thrilled to be opening our much-awaited first Mumbai store. From seeing a strong demand on our e-commerce channel, to now launching brick-and-mortar stores in Mumbai, we are delighted to bring our LifeWear to Mumbaikars,” says Tomohiko Sei, CEO, Uniqlo India.
Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, has been in India since 2016 when it established its production facilities near Bengaluru. The company today works with 17 sewing factories and six fabric mills across the country. Uniqlo, the brand, launched in India in October 2019. Over the last four years, the company opened 10 stores between Delhi (seven stores), Lucknow, Chandigarh and Gurakpur (one each). Today, Fast Retailing has 400 employees, and 10 store managers. According to Sei, 70 per cent of the store manager level employees are female. The company’s main vision is to grow in the Indian community. “Our growth philosophy is not just selling clothes, but we want to make people happy through our business,” he says. For example, during May 2021, during the covid pandemic, Fast Retailing contributed Rs220 million towards covid relief.
In 2021, the company started its e-commerce channel in India. Though the brand didn’t have any stores in Mumbai at the time, it was surprising to see that the traffic on the site from Delhi and Mumbai were almost at par. “That’s why we wanted to bring the actual store, and the product to Mumbai so the consumer could experience it directly,” says Sei. Uniqlo’s product range includes LifeWear collection for men, women, kids and babies. It is essentially LifeWear concept, comprising of functional, innovative and high quality clothes for daily needs. The idea is to make people fashionable, and at the same time comfortable. The ndian customers will also have access to Uniqlo’s international collaborations as well.
According to Sei, though the company could have launched in Mumbai from its first year, “We intentionally waited for the opportunity there. We waited until we found a good partner,” he says. Another critical reason for the company to wait a while before launching in Mumbai was the need to build a high quality operation first, and develop the right people for the organization. “When we had enough people in our company, we finally came to Mumbai,” he adds.
As sizing is usually an issue with foreign brands coming to India, Uniqlo has chosen to come to market with its Asia spec which is more suitable for India. The company has also expanded the size range to include the XXL size as well.
Sei wants to make Uniqlo the most trusted brand in India. Having entered the Indian market, Sei plans to hold good on the promises the company has made to India in order to become the most trusted brand here. “Product and service is the main path to build trust. Increase in production, leading to increase job opportunities will also help build trust,” he says. There is a lot of work ahead. Plans are to expand the brands presence in the western region. Much of which will depend on finding the right partner.