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Uniqlo chief: China slowdown 'no impact' on growth plans

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-09-29 09:51

Uniqlo chief: China slowdown 'no impact' on growth plans

Pile photo shows the fashion retailer Uniqlo's outlet in Beijing's upmarket Sanlitun area.[Photo/IC]

Walt Disney Co's new park in Shanghai will help the Uniqlo casual wear brand expand in China, Fast Retailing Co Chairman Tadashi Yanai said on Saturday, shrugging off concerns over an economic slowdown in the Japanese retailer's largest overseas market.

"The opening of the Shanghai Disneyland gives both of us, Uniqlo and Disney, a business opportunity," Japan's richest person Yanai told reporters in Shanghai, where Uniqlo on Sunday opened a new Disney-inspired concept store. "Our business is getting absolutely no impact" from China's slowdown, he said.

Uniqlo devoted an entire floor at its six-story China flagship store in central Shanghai to products co-designed with Disney. A life-sized Mickey Mouse statue greets visitors to the store, where T-shirts and toys depicting characters such as Tinker Bell, Woody of Disney Pixar's Toy Story animated films, and Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies are on display.

Yanai reiterated his plans to open 100 stores a year in China, potentially reaching as many as 3,000 outlets as Uniqlo competes with Hennes & Mauritz AB's H&M and Inditex SA's Zara to win over consumers in the world's most-populous country. The Japanese retailer's design tie-up comes as Disney prepares to open its $5.5 billion Shanghai theme park next year, its biggest foreign investment and a bet on the country's booming middle-class.

Uniqlo has about 360 stores on the Chinese mainland, the most by country outside Japan, where it has almost 850 shops.

China is a key market for Fast Retailing as Yanai targets to build Asia's biggest clothing retailer into the world leader, with a target of 5 trillion yen ($40.4 billion) in sales by 2020 from its forecast of 1.65 trillion yen for the fiscal year ended Aug 31.

The Disney collaboration should help Uniqlo boost sales in China "as buzz builds around the opening of Shanghai Disneyland", said Bloomberg Intelligence retail analyst Thomas Jastrzab. "Expanding store-specific limited edition merchandise offerings should help Uniqlo increase regular foot traffic and improve customer loyalty."

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