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Uniqlo Quietly Closing US Stores Again

Uniqlo’s second attempt at an American expansion has fallen flat.

The Japanese basics purveyor, which announced big plans a year ago to grow its U.S. store count has scaled back that strategy.

The New York Post reported that the Fast Retailing-owned retailer closed five stores since January, in suburban shopping malls in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Staten Island.

“The U.S. is very important to the company,” spokesman Aldo Liguori told the Post. “We are focusing on large cities where we can open large stores.”

Fast Retailing chief Tadashi Yanai said last month that while Uniqlo, which is known for offering inexpensive apparel in a kaleidoscope of colors, has established itself in New York and other big cities, having a presence in suburban malls hasn’t done the business any favors. In fact, Uniqlo expects to lose 4 billion yen (more than $36 million) on its American operations in the first half of the fiscal year.

It’s an unfortunate case of déjà vu for the Japanese retailer, which opened its first U.S. stores at three New Jersey malls in 2005 and closed them shortly thereafter. It tried again at the end of 2006 with a flagship in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The retailer announced expansion plans in early 2015 to open 15 new U.S. locations during the year for a total of 54, but that was trimmed back to just four openings. So far this year the retailer has opened only three new stores.

As of May 31, Uniqlo had 44 stores in the U.S., and its parent company said in April that it hoped to open 100 new locations over the next decade.