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Fast Retailing to Focus on Improving Uniqlo’s Performance Stateside

UNIQLO - 5th Avenue Storefront

Japanese basics purveyor Uniqlo looks set to lose 4 billion yen ($36.31 million) on its American operations in the first half of its fiscal year but Tadashi Yanai, the chief executive of parent company Fast Retailing, said he has a plan to staunch that bleed.

“The U.S. market is the most important. I’m heading there today. We’re struggling now, but we’re going to rebuild,” Yanai said at a press event showcasing the brand’s fall/winter collection, Reuters reported. “People know us in places like New York. But we’re not known in other areas. We would like people to know our products, our name, our way of thinking.”

He didn’t, however, disclose any further details on how the brand is going to raise its profile.

Fast Retailing blamed a warm winter, weak sales and heavy discounting for Uniqlo’s poor performance in the U.S., as well as in Greater China and South Korea, in the fourth quarter, causing international profits to fall 31.4% in the fourth quarter.

While the company, which opened its first U.S. store in 2006, announced expansion plans early in 2015 to open 15 new locations for a total of 54, it cut that to just five once it realized that being present in suburban malls wasn’t doing its business any favors.

Earlier this year, Yanai admitted that the company’s past price hikes were also a mistake, as well as an unstable organizational structure. For that reason, he said that smaller teams of five to six people would be assigned to specific projects—and held accountable for them—instead of each division having its own executives, midlevel managers and subordinates.

Last month, Fast Retailing said it plans to open 100 new Uniqlo locations in the U.S. over the next decade. That’s an average of 10 per year.