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Uniqlo Opens New Paris Store; Offering A Lot More Than Just Clothing

In a radical departure from its traditional retailing model, Japanese fast fashion colossus Uniqlo opened a groundbreaking new store in Paris where clothing is just one of many items to be offered to its customers.

Besides Uniqlo’s fast fashion garments and accessories, the unlikely mix of merchandise for sale at the apparel store, located in the old and picturesque Marais district of Paris, may include books, furniture and other items showcasing “the coolest Japanese lifestyle,” Uniqlo’s head of research and design, Yuki Katsuta said. “We are thinking of making that store…one of the best fashion-message concept stores in the world,” she said.

The new Parisian store occupies a little more than 8,800 square feet on three floors of a former nineteenth century factory. Uniqlo’s other Paris stores are substantially larger, with the flagship outlet in the Paris Opera district at 21,500 square feet.

Interior design elements of the store include contemporary digital screens and LED displays along with the many of the older features of the original factory which have been retained. Uniqlo’s CEO of European operations, Berndt Hauptkorn, described the store’s atmosphere as “museum-like.”

If successful, the concept–a store completely different than any other, according to Katsuta–may become the template for similar retail outlets in other cities around the globe.

Parent firm Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. plans to launch 100 to 300 Uniqlo stores in 2014 in locations beyond Japan as part of an ambitious effort to broaden its international footprint. Uniqlo recently opened stores in Germany–Europe’s largest Uniqlo outlet–and in Melbourne, Australia. Another store is scheduled to open soon in Marseille, Uniqlo’s first French retail operation outside of Paris.