Fully believe Indian consumers will embrace LifeWear concept: Yukihiro Katsuta, head and research of development, Uniqlo

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Published: July 27, 2019 4:23:15 AM

Japanese retailer Uniqlo is set to make its India debut with three stores in New Delhi this year.

Uniqlo, Fast Retailing, LifeWear clothing concept, Yukihiro Katsuta, FDI in single-brand retailYukihiro Katsuta, head and research of development, Uniqlo

Japanese retailer Uniqlo is set to make its India debut with three stores in New Delhi this year. The company, owned by Fast Retailing, believes its unique LifeWear clothing concept will be loved by Indian consumers and set it apart from competitors. Yukihiro Katsuta, group senior vice-president, Fast Retailing, and head of research & development at Uniqlo, speaks to FE’s Asmita Dey about its India launch and the offerings it has on the table for consumers. Excerpts:

You are set to open three stores in India this year. What will be your business strategy given that it is a price-sensitive market?

We are extremely excited to open three stores in India this fall, and our primary objective will be to introduce ourselves to Indian consumers. Uniqlo stands for high-quality, highly functional, versatile and affordable clothes that are made for people of all ages. We are confident that Indian customers will welcome us.

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How do you plan to differentiate yourself from competitors? What will be your unique offering to Indian consumers?

“Changing clothes. Changing conventional wisdom. Change the world ” – this is our corporate statement at Fast Retailing. We believe what differentiates us from others is our unique LifeWear concept. LifeWear is simple, high quality, everyday clothing with a practical sense of beauty. We fully believe that discerning Indian consumers will embrace the LifeWear concept.

What is your India revenue target for the first year of operation? After New Delhi, which other cities are you planning to enter?

India is not just a new market. It is a new world, and it is an important part of our global expansion. Given the size and fast growth of the Indian market, the launch will, for the first time in Uniqlo’s history, involve three separate stores. We are looking forward to bringing LifeWear to other parts of India. At the moment, our top priority is to learn from customers in Delhi, and make our first three stores here a success.

How will your pricing be for the India market?

Our products are carefully priced with the best value for quality, keeping in mind the Indian consumer who desires the best in product and innovation and at the same time likes it to be affordable. Prices vary on products. For example, the popular UT (Uniqlo T-shirt) ranges from Rs 990-1990, iconic Heattech and AIRism are from Rs 990 and the knitwear is from Rs 2,990 and above.

The Indian government is working on easing local sourcing norms for FDI in single-brand retail. What do you have to say about it as Uniqlo is understood to be one of the beneficiaries of the policy relaxation? How easy or difficult is it to source products locally in India?

Sourcing is a long-term commitment. Our sourcing work began even before the establishment of Uniqlo India, and we have been working closely with production partners and relevant government authorities to make sure that we can meet this important target. This is a critical element in our India plan and we are optimistic that we will be on track to meet our goals.

Considering that many people may not be familiar with the brand in India, how much will you be spending on promotions and advertisements? Are you collaborating with brands (streaming partners/e-commerce platforms/social media) for the same?

We will be sharing further information when it is available.

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