After months of anticipation, fast fashion retailer Uniqlo has announced that its first outlet in India will open its doors to consumers in October.

“The opening of our first store in Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, followed by a second and third store in DLF, Saket, and DLF Cyberhub, Gurugram, represents a significant step in our company’s global strategy. We will offer affordable apparel wear, targeting men, women and kids,” Tadashi Yanai, Uniqlo founder and chairman, told reporters in India.

This will be the first time the retailer, part of Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. Ltd, has set up multiple stores in a launch market. “Given the size and fast growth of the Indian market, the launch will for the first time involve three separate stores to be able to offer LifeWear to as many people as possible," the company said.

The company expects India to outpace China and its home country to become its largest market and, since 2017, has been public about its intentions to expand into the market, although initial plans to launch in 2018 were delayed.

In an interview with the Economic Times, Yanai said the company aspires to be the “best selling retailer in India”, putting it in a head-to-head battle with Spain’s Inditex, which owns Zara, and Sweden’s H&M. Both brands already have an established presence in the market and are among the country’s top fashion retailers.

“The budget is unlimited when it comes to investment [in India] and there is no capping,” said Yanai, adding that Uniqlo plans to tap the growing e-commerce route in India “as soon as possible”.

Work on its Indian debut has been in the works for months, with the company hiring S. Shantanu in January as marketing head for India. He joined Uniqlo from Procter & Gamble where he held several senior positions from 2008.

The acceleration of its market launch plans is also aimed at taking advantage of recent developments in the country’s operating conditions.

On July 5, India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced further relaxation of the country’s sourcing norms for single-brand retailers in a bid to attract more foreign investment. Currently India requires brands applying for single-brand FDI (above 51%) to adhere to 30% mandatory local sourcing.

Uniqlo International constituted approximately 51% of total sales for the brand with the Asian markets of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and other parts of the region generating strong growth. The Tokyo-listed Fast Retailing reported revenues of US$19bn and profit of US$1.4bn for fiscal year 2018.

Sourced from Live Mint, Economic Times, Business Standard, Fashion Network