TOKYO: Fast Retailing, the parent of fashion chain Uniqlo, has set out ambitious expansion plans as it seeks to become the "brand that represents Japan".

The company hopes to open between 200 and 300 new Uniqlo stores annually, as part of a broader goal of increasing outlet numbers from just over 1,000 at present to 4,000 by 2020.

"I want us to become the brand that represents Japan globally, the brand that represents what clothing is," Tadashi Yanai, the chief executive of Fast Retailing, said, according to Reuters.

Fast Retailing's annual targets include unveiling 100 new branches apiece in China and Southeast Asia, 50 in South Korea, 30 in Taiwan and 20 in the US and Europe combined.

Yanai said: "This marks the true start of our global expansion and to me it resembles the beginning of our domestic expansion of the [Uniqlo] chain, except now it is not across Japan, but across the world,"

More specifically, Fast Retailing wants to operate 1,000 stores in both China and Southeast Asia – incorporating markets like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand – by 2020.

In the shorter term, it is seeking to generate sales of ¥100bn from China in three years time, and outlined an equivalent objective regarding South Korea.

"It's a gold rush ... A gold rush is right in front of our eyes. To say we won't dig for it is inconceivable," Yanai said. "We have to become the number one in Asia to eventually become the global number one."

Taking a wider purview, Fast Retailing is considering opening Uniqlo branches in Australia, India and New Zealand, thus further helping to offset a long term slowdown in Japan

"Japan has been on a downtrend for 20 years," Yanai said. "We are at a critical moment."

When discussing total sales, Fast Retailing has established the aim of boosting revenues from ¥1tr ($13bn; €9.5bn; £8.2bn) in the current fiscal year to ¥1.7tr in 2015, and ¥5tr by the year ending in August 2020.

As of January 2011, Inditex, the Spanish firm which owns chains such as Zara, ran 5,000 stores in 78 countries, while The Gap, its US rival, boasted 3,200 stores worldwide.

Data sourced from Reuters, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff