Japan's clothing retailer Uniqlo eying expansion into India

25 June 2014

Uniqlo, Japan's largest clothing store chain, is looking to expand its business into India to derive the benefits of a fast-expanding garments sector, availability of cotton, skilled manpower, a big domestic market, and good prospects for exports.

Uniqlo, a unit of Fast Retailing Co Ltd, has long been eyeing the Indian market to open its stores and industry officials say it is a likely step in that direction.

Tadashi Yanai, chairman of Uniqlo, who called on prime minister Narendra Modi today, said his company was interested in sourcing garments from India.

Modi welcomed Yanai's interest in developing Uniqlo's business in India and highlighted the advantages that India enjoyed in the textiles and apparels sector.

Fast Retailing, Asia's top apparel retailer, has manufacturing partners in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

In 2012, India allowed single brand retailers like Uniqlo full ownership of their Indian operations, but required them to source 30 per cent of their goods from small and village industries in India.

Representatives of the company, including Tadashi Yanai, also met minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman., and also plan to meet textile minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar.

The Japanese retailer is keen to forge sourcing arrangements with Indian companies. It is looking to apply under single-brand retail. It is planning to invest in retail infrastructure and set up stores in India.

Uniqlo, a casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer, had been delaying its entry into India even though the government had allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment in single-brand retail as far back as in 2012.

However, since these companies will have to source 30 per cent of their goods from small and village industries, they have been holding back investments in the sector.

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