When Uniqlo will finally open in Manila has been the subject of talk primarily because this Japanese casual brand now has a sizeable following among young Filipinos who deem its clothes affordable but hip, and of lasting quality.
The success of Uniqlo worldwide has been phenomenal. Its founder and head, Tadashi Yanai, is considered the richest man in Japan.
The Philippines’ largest retail chain, SM Retail, will open hot global brand Uniqlo next year.
SM Retail has entered into a joint venture with Japan’s Fast Retailing Corp. through its subsidiary Market Watch Investment Corp.
Based on the agreement, the new company will be established in the Philippines at yearend, and the first Uniqlo store will open in Manila in 2012.
SM said in a statement that Fast Retailing had been exploring the idea of entering the Philippine market “for some time.”
“The joint venture will create excitement in the dynamic local retail market by bringing to Manila a global brand known for its high-quality, fashionable, basic casual clothes that can be worn by anyone, anytime, anywhere,” it said.
Museum of the hip
Fast Retailing opened its first Uniqlo store in Japan in 1984 and began expanding worldwide in 1991. It has 824 stores in Japan, and by the end of 2010 had 150 stores abroad, notably China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.
It has flagship stores in Paris and Shanghai and recently opened a store in Bangkok.
Shoppers were drawn to the first Uniqlo stories in Japan for their minimalist yet trend-setting layout that included rolled T-shirts on shelves. Uniqlo was hailed as the era’s museum of the hip and young.
SM Retail, now over 50 years old, has been the leading retail group in the Philippines. Its retail operations include a chain of department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets in key cities nationwide.
Its specialty store chain serves niche markets—home stores, toy superstores, hardware superstores like Ace Hardware, personal care stores such as Watsons, and appliance superstores, among others.
It is part of SM Investments Corp., one the country’s largest conglomerates, which is also involved in mall operations, banking, property, and hotels and conventions.