Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo to open 2 flagship shops in Toronto
The Japanese clothing retailer, with 1,500 stores globally, is entering the Canadian market with locations at Eaton Centre and Yorkdale.
Uniqlo, a leading Japanese clothing retailer, is announcing Monday it will open two flagship stores in Toronto in the fall of 2016: one at Yorkdale Shopping Centre and one at the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Uniqlo has a global presence, with 1,500 stores in Japan, Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S.
“Uniqlo is growing and I thought — we all thought — that Canada was a terrific market, especially starting in Toronto,” said Larry Meyer, chief executive officer of Uniqlo USA and Canada. “It’s in reasonable proximity to our New York City flagship store on 5th (Ave.) and we thought it would be a natural expansion.
The announcement comes as Target Canada is in the process of closing 133 stores following a disastrous attempt to enter the marketplace, a failure that will put 17,600 people out of work in spring. Last week the Starbucks cafes inside the stores were closed.
Meyer has held senior executive positions at Toys ’R’ Us International, Gymboree and Forever 21, with experience in the Canadian marketplace.
He believes that Uniqlo will be successful where Target was not because it’s a much different retailer entering the market on a smaller scale.
Meyer hopes to expand the brand to Vancouver and other Canadian cities.
“My past has shown Canadians to be open people and very willing to welcome new brands,” he said. “I believe we have unique products with Uniqlo. We’re not just a mass merchandiser of branded goods. Our products are our brand.
“I believe we are entering two great centres, that’s the way we’re starting, not with as big a business bet as Target made. We believe in the locations.”
Uniqlo sells comfortable, affordable and stylish casual apparel, free of logos, for men, women and children, in natural and synthetic fabrics engineered to perform well in different climates and weather conditions.
Current U.S. prices for the garments range from $6 to $130. Uniqlo sells everything from socks to sweat pants to extra-fine merino wool and cashmere sweaters to trousers for the office and slim, ultralight, weather-repellent down jackets and coats.
Uniqlo is a brand of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., a global Japanese retail holding company that designs, manufactures and sells clothing under seven main brands, including Theory and Helmut Lang, in 2,866 stores worldwide.
Global sales for the 2014 fiscal year ending Aug. 31 were approximately $13.3 billion (U.S.).
Swedish retail giant H&M Group has 3,500 stores worldwide under different banners, according to the company’s website.
The Eaton Centre Uniqlo, measuring 28,000 square feet, will put Uniqlo into direct competition with H&M next door. It will be situated in part of the space at the north end vacated by Sears Canada. Nordstrom is also planning to open in part of the space in the fall of 2016.
Uniqlo at Yorkdale will open in a 24,000-square-foot space in the same new wing that will house Nordstrom and 27 other new tenants, many of them first-to-market. Nordstrom is also schedule to open in 2016.
“Uniqlo is a very strong brand and they have a very strong international presence. They bring a uniqueness to their product that we think will be a tremendous fit for Yorkdale,” said Claire Santamaria, Yorkdale general manager.
“The appetite of the Yorkdale consumer is very strong for new and unique brands. It’s something our team works really hard on.”
Santamaria said that two years ago, Yorkdale began focusing on bringing tourists to Yorkdale to shop, appointing a tourism manager and providing access to Union Pay and JCB for shoppers from China and Japan.
“We have seen a tremendous growth in our tourist shopper,” said Santamaria.
Uniqlo will be recruiting in Canada. More information is available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #UniqloCanada.