Uniqlo Plans to Curb US Store Openings, Citing 'Limited' Brand Awareness

The retailer saw its US operating losses grow in 2015, thanks to store openings and low sales.
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Eliza Brooke
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The retailer saw its US operating losses grow in 2015, thanks to store openings and low sales.
A Uniqlo store in New York. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A Uniqlo store in New York. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

While Uniqlo's recent collaboration with the French label Lemaire brought fashion fans out in droves — the New York launch event was, to quote Dhani, "a bit of a madhouse" — it seems that the Japanese basics retailer hasn't been experiencing the same frenzied excitement from the rest of the US population. On Thursday, Uniqlo released its yearly financial report, and with it, announced that it will be dialing back its expansion in the States following a year of sub-par sales here.

Uniqlo opened 17 store locations in the US during 2015, but its sales fell below its target — the result, it says, of "limited awareness" of the brand. In order to ease those operating losses, it plans to limit new store openings in the coming year and instead push e-commerce, since that's generally cheaper than maintaining physical locations.

The retailer's performance in the US comes in contrast to an otherwise solid year elsewhere. Uniqlo, which saw its international revenue rise nearly 46 percent in 2015, made significant gains in China and South Korea, with Australia and Europe slightly above target.