From fast fashion to faster fashion: speed is seen as the key by Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing in its bid to outrace apparel powerhouse Zara.

Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai says Fast Retailing plans to shorten the time it takes from design to delivery to about 13 days, roughly the same as Zara, owned by clothes retailer Inditex.

He says the company's new design and delivery center in Tokyo will also help Uniqlo expand direct-to-consumer, custom-clothing sales and improve the efficiency of its same-day delivery in the city.

"We need to be fast," he says. "We need to deliver products customers want quickly."

Japan's biggest clothing retailer aims to increase total revenue by nearly 70 percent to ¥3 trillion (US$26 billion) in the fiscal year ending August 2021. While that may still not be enough to overtake Inditex, which reported sales of $25 billion last year, Yanai says Fast Retailing’s focus on clothes that meet consumers’ daily needs will help propel its growth.

"Zara sells fashion rather than catering to customers' needs," he says. "We will sell products that are rooted in people's day-to-day lives, and we do so based on what we hear from customers."

Overseas markets, notably in Asia, will grow to contribute about two-thirds of Fast Retailing's revenue in the next four years, up from about half currently. Uniqlo will open 100 stores in China and another 100 in Southeast Asia annually, says Yanai.

Source: Retail News Asia