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Uniqlo eyes PH as garments production site

(Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, by Amy Remo | July 26, 2015)

Global clothing retailer Uniqlo is planning to tap Philippine garments manufacturers as it considers making the country one of its production sites that will cater to its global retail network.

In a briefing on Thursday, Katsumi Kubota, chief operating officer of Fast Retailing Philippines Inc., said he had started studying a list of 40 local garments factories that was given to them by the Philippine government during President Aquino’s state visit to Japan recently.

Kubota said this was also one of the topics discussed by the Uniqlo head and President Aquino when they met in Tokyo.

“I think we have to study it carefully…We do not own any of our factories so what I’m checking now is, first of all, the quality (of the products produced by these factories). We cannot sacrifice quality. We’re also looking at their (capacities) because most the time, one factory produces one item for Uniqlo branches all over the world, so we have to work with large factories. These factories must also be operated by good owners,” Kubota said.

Kubota, however, did not provide any timeline as to when the study on the prospective factories would be completed. If the company decides to pursue this plan, the local garments factories that will be selected will have to supply to all Uniqlo stores globally.

For now, Kubota said Uniqlo was focusing on expanding its retail network aggressively over the next five years and in beefing up the local market’s awareness of the Uniqlo brand.

He said Uniqlo would be opening two branches in Cebu by the fourth quarter of this year, marking the company’s first foray outside Luzon. Plans to put up stores in key areas in Mindanao such as Davao, Cagayan de Oro and GenSan are being studied.

“Opening our stores in Cebu, after our third year in the Philippines, is another important phase of our business in the country. We have opened 23 stores in Metro Manila and Luzon, and entering the Visayas market is a milestone in our growth strategy,” he added.

The two Uniqlo stores in Cebu will cover at least 1,000 square meters each and create 200 jobs per branch. Kubota did not say the amount the company was investing in these stores but said it was compliant with Philippine laws that required foreign retailers to invest a minimum of $800,000 a store.

He said Uniqlo was targeting to have 29 stores in the country by the end of the year and 200 by 2020.

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