Uniqlo expects profit at U.S. stores in 'couple of years'

Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:46pm EDT
 
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By Atsuko Kitayama

(Reuters) - Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo aims to turn a profit at its small but expanding U.S. network of stores within the next couple of years, the company's top U.S. executive, Larry Meyer, said.

Well known in its home country for its inexpensive but trendy down jackets, jeans and undergarments, Uniqlo - short for "Unique Clothing" - is a relative newcomer in the United States.

It opened its first flagship store in New York City's chic Soho neighborhood in 2006. With this week's new opening in Wayne, New Jersey, the company, owned by the world's fourth-largest fashion retailer, Fast Retailing Co 9983.T, now operates 26 U.S. stores.

And the company plans to boost that number to 39 outlets by mid-November, Meyer, chief executive officer of Uniqlo USA, told Reuters.

Still, Uniqlo's ambitious roll-out plan has yet to earn a profit in the U.S., at least in part because of high opening costs.

"We are investing in building our brand and building stores, that includes building a workforce that is capable of handling the road we are putting in place," Meyer said.

He was optimistic that the U.S. operation was "on the way to getting (profitable) within the next couple of years."

Fast Retailing has provided few details and has said for the past few years that the U.S. business would emerge from the red "soon."   Continued...

 
Shoppers walk inside Fast Retailing's Uniqlo casual clothing store in Tokyo July 10, 2014.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai