Fast Retailing Company, owner of the casual-wear brand Uniqlo, has applied to open stores in India as Asia’s largest clothing chain increases its reliance on overseas markets.
The Japanese company has submitted an application seeking the Indian government’s approval to do business in the country under the Uniqlo brand name, a filing on India’s Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion website showed.
“India is a market with great potential,” Fast Retailing’s spokeswoman Beryl Tung stated, adding that the company is awaiting word from the Indian government.
Fast Retailing has been pushing to expand overseas, as wages languish and the population ages in Japan where the company is based. The brand’s international store count surpassed the number of locations in Japan two years ago.
The company has expressed an interest in entering India since at least 2011. The move would follow Inditex SA’s Zara and Hennes & Mauritz AB in an apparel market that is forecast by Euromonitor International to grow 29 per cent to Rs 3.76 trillion (US$ 58 billion) by 2021.
Retail chain operators in India are benefiting from a government push to cut cash payments that is prompting shoppers to increasingly use credit cards and digital payments services. Such store networks have an advantage — in a country where per capita incomes have more than doubled in the past decade — as most small mom-and-pop stores largely take cash payment.
Fast Retailing last month reported the biggest jump in annual earnings in more than a decade, driven by a near doubling of operating profit at Uniqlo stores outside of Japan.