Latest Stories

Uniqlo opens–says ‘50 more stores in the next three years’


TADASHI YANAI: Money has never been my motivation... I want to be No. 1. I want everybody in the world to know Uniqlo. That’s my motivation. ARNOLD ALMACEN

Uniqlo’s first Philippine store had yet to open, but Tadashi Yanai already expressed his company’s plan to open 50 stores in the country in the next three years.

Yanai, listed by Forbes magazine as the richest man in Japan, arrived in Manila on Wednesday to oversee the final preparations for Uniqlo’s much-anticipated opening at SM Mall of Asia Friday. (The main mall opens 7 a.m. Friday in anticipation of the long queue of shoppers, typical of Uniqlo store openings.)

THE UNIQLO-SMMOA sales team on a dry run onWednesday’s media preview and pre-opening party. PHOTOS BY ARNOLD ALMACEN

He wasn’t staying for the opening, but Yanai, 63, chair and chief executive of Fast Retailing Inc., which owns Uniqlo, has been known for his hands-on management style, at times even working the retail floor. It’s an example that’s followed by even his most senior executives.

The billionaire businessman didn’t show any sign of wear even as his whirlwind Philippine visit had a full schedule, including a courtesy visit with President Aquino Thursday.

“The store turned out really well,” he said, visibly pleased as he surveyed the store on the second floor of MOA’s main mall, where Marionnaud and SM Kultura used to be.

Uniqlo arrives in the Philippines in partnership with SM Retail Inc.

He feels the same excitement whenever a new store opens, Yanai said, wherever that store may be.

Outside, mallers milled at the entrance of the new store, lured by the massive signages proclaiming merchandise at major markdowns (for the next two weeks, men’s denim jeans and women’s skinny jeans in a plethora of colors are marked down at P590/pair; the popular UT tees are also discounted at P590 for a week).

Rapid expansion

“It’s our hope to open 50 stores in the next three years,” Yanai said. The company is on rapid expansion globally, and it’s just starting. In the last few years, it has grown to become Asia’s No. 1 retail clothing brand.

The popular Bra Top line marked down at P590 for the opening week

In its bid to conquer the European market, for instance, Yanai last month introduced world No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic as Uniqlo’s brand ambassador.

“I’ve just always liked to compete and win against other brands or the other person,” he said when asked about his  seeming insatiable appetite for success. “I want to be No. 1. Money has never been my motivation. In terms of business, I want everybody in the world to know this brand. That’s my motivation, that’s my company’s motivation. That’s why we’re working very hard.”

When Uniqlo opened its Tokyo flagship in March, Yanai’s staff talked about his hands-on management style. He micro-manages, they said, often perusing each new item or design that goes into production.

cashier counters behind a photo wall of local brand ambassadors Chris Tiu, Iza Calzado, Nikki Gil and Chito Miranda

“You cannot manage a business from afar,” he said. “You have to be there on the floor and work with the people. I expect the same from whomever I’m leaving the business behind with.”

His heir-apparent will be a team, though, he clarified, not an individual. “I won’t hand it over to one individual and expect that individual to do everything I’m doing now.”

Yanai found a kinship with the Sy family, his local business partners, particularly Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chair of SM Investment Corp. “I’ve always felt similarities with Teresita-san,” he said. “She’s second-generation just like me, and she’s continuing the business. [The Sys] started small, and so did we.”

Brand endorsers

men’s regular-fit straight jeans at P590 for a limited period

Apart from the unexpected sponsorship of Djokovic, Yanai said they’re also looking into tapping entertainers and Hollywood celebrities as brand endorsers. Uniqlo has previously worked with Charlize Theron and Orlando Bloom.

“Aside from being the No. 1 tennis player, for us Djokovic is the No. 1 athlete in the world,” Yanai explained of Uniqlo’s choice of ambassador. Djokovic’s civic advocacies, he added, was what clinched the deal. “He is very active in his advocacies; he has done a lot to contribute to society. He’s from Serbia, a country that has suffered a lot. After the Japan earthquake in 2011, he was very active in sending help to Japan.”

Uniqlo, Yanai clarified, isn’t expanding into tennis or performance wear anytime soon. Nor will it create tennis shoes for Djokovic, who currently wears another brand. Djokovic’s tennis whites and blues at the 2012 French Open were created exclusively for him.

In future Uniqlo campaigns, the Serb will be wearing Uniqlo’s regular merchandise. Djokovic’s five-year contract also stipulates his collaboration for product development.

Better relationship

On his Malacañang visit, Yanai said he planned to encourage the President to foster better relationship between Japan and the Philippines.

“I heard he’s very popular and very hardworking,” the Japanese said of President Aquino. “I’d like to wish him luck on his work.”

Yanai isn’t a superstitious man. He laughed heartily when asked if he followed a ritual to ensure a new store’s success. “I don’t believe in those things. But my wife does.”

In the early days of Uniqlo, Yanai said his wife used to go to a shrine in Japan, gather some ashes and scatter them around the stores. She has stopped doing that.

“And maybe it won’t work in other countries,” he said, smiling.

Judging by Uniqlo’s success in other markets so far, the company looks in no need of a ritual or magic spell to duplicate that triumph here.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: fashion , Lifestyle , Retail , Uniqlo

  • Apolinario Mabini

    Beware of working for big fashion houses like Hermes, LV and such. There are numerous, but unsubstantiated instances of harassment if their shiny images are somehow tainted. These companies spend considerable amounts in protecting their images and will continue to do so when needed to silence threats or in payback retribution.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. How to enjoy Buntod
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  7. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  8. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained