If Uniqlo USA CEO Larry Meyer has his way, the retail chain known for inexpensive basics, ultra light down jackets and HEATTECH layering pieces will become a household name across far more American cities by the end of this year.
Specific details of Uniqlo’s rapid U.S. expansion have yet to be announced, but the company revealed ambitious plans to grow from its current just over 20 U.S. stores, to close to 40 by the end of 2014, and to 200 by 2020. At the end of 2013, Uniqlo’s store count only totaled 10, so if the retailer executes its intended growth plans, it will have quadrupled its presence in the U.S. in just one year.
“We will have a much larger footprint, which has to include the middle of the country,” Meyer told the Taipei Times.
Uniqlo, a division of Japan-based Fast Retailing Co., currently has 21 stores in the U.S., as well as Uniqlo.com, which offers nationwide online shopping. Its brand recognition is strongest in the northeast, where it opened its first U.S. doors in New York City in 2006. A mega 89,000-square-foot flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue followed 2011, while stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles have been other successful entries. New stores are slated to open in Boston, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The retailer has laid the framework of its expansion in major cities along the U.S. coasts, targeting areas where it could potentially capitalize on name recognition amongst large Asian populations.
Uniqlo is just one of the many international players sprouting up across the U.S., including Zara of Spain’s Inditex and Sweden’s H&M. For Uniqlo, the U.S., China and Southeast Asia are said to be prime growth markets.
Meyer noted that the U.S. stores are on the road to profitability, even in growth mode. While production will remain in China and designs will stay true to the retailer’s signature Japanese aesthetic, Uniqlo plans to adjust its sizing specification to better suit the U.S. market.