Uniqlo’s Journey Across Borders.

Uniqlo is a wholly owned and primary subsidiary of the multinational retail holding company, Fast Retailing, founded by Tadashi Yanai and headquartered in Yamaguchi City, Japan. 


The conglomerate, which also operates the specialty brands of GUPLSTTheoryHelmut LangComptoir des CotonniersPrincesse Tam.Tam, and J Brand ranks among the five largest apparel retailers in the world, with a total revenue estimated at over US$19 billion, as per fiscal year 2023. 

Uniqlo, known originally as Unique Clothing Warehouse, opened its first store in Hiroshima, Japan in 1984. The retailer’s in-house LifeWear brand, consisting of a wide array of casual, everyday clothing for men, women, and children, proved to have universal appeal. Its high-quality, durable, and comfortable fabrics, crafted in simple and minimalistic contemporary designs, and made available at affordable prices, has attracted the young urban consumer from all areas of the globe. Using signature technologies, the company creates innovative fabrics, such as HeattechAirism and Ultra-Light Down, and through designer collaborations and artistic commissions, generates limited-edition designs which increase brand awareness and effectively address the lifestyle needs of an evolving market. The Uniqlo store’s customer-centric culture, as evidenced from its well-organized merchandise layout, its offer of free tailoring, as well as its rapid automated self-checkout system, is yet another feature which demarcates the Japanese retailer from its competitors.

Uniqlo grew to become Japan’s leading specialty retailer, with over 800 stores, and to account for 6.5% of the country’s apparel market. In addition, the company’s aggressive strategy for overseas expansion led to operations in more than twenty countries, with over 2,400 stores across Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia. The brand’s largest foreign market to date, is mainland China, with more than 930 stores and among its most lucrative, is the South Korean market which accounts for 6.6% of the brand’s annual sales. 

Uniqlo’s North American expansion began in 2005 with the opening of its store in New Jersey’s Meno Park Mall followed by its flagship store, in 2006, in New York City’s Manhattan district. In 2015, the company established its first North American distribution center in Phillipsburg, New Jersey and by 2024 its presence spread to 53 locations across the United States. 

Uniqlo’s foray into Canadian territory, began in 2016 with its more than 30,000-square-foot, two-level flagship stores at Toronto’s Eaton Center and Yorkdale Shopping Center. Thereafter, the company continued opening stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). They continued to expand through Canada in the years that followed up until today.

In 2023, SAJO was contracted in its design/build, general contracting, and project management capacity to expand the brand’s operations in Alberta, thereby undertaking the construction of three additional 15,000-square-foot Uniqlo stores in the province. The first was built in Edmonton’s Southgate Mall, the second in Calgary’s Chinook Centre, and the third, scheduled to open in March 2024, in Calgary’s Market Mall. SAJO was successful in meeting the brand’s design specifications and in ensuring the high-quality standards of its lighting systems and millwork fixtures, which figure prominently across the brand’s retail spaces.

Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing, plans to open more than twenty stores in United States and Canada in 2024, where there are 53 and 19, respectively. The company’s overall plan is to extend its North American operations to 200 stores by 2027, targeting key shopping malls in major cities across the continent. SAJO looks forward to future successful collaborations with the Uniqlo brand as its expansion plan unfolds.


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