business

Uniqlo opens mega-store in Ginza, with 100 foreign staff

47 Comments

Fast Retailing on Friday opened its largest flagship Uniqlo store to date in Ginza. It is the firm's 9th flagship store in the world.

In another first for the clothing retailer, approximately 20% of the store's staff, or about 100 employees, are non-Japanese.

The new store at Ginza 6-chome (former Ginza Komatsu Building) occupies 5,000 square meters and features 12 floors – all selling the Uniqlo brand. The building has a transparent-glass facade.

More than 300 shoppers queued up ahead of the opening time to be the first to set foot inside the shop.

"I wanted to see the store," said Yuki Kurihara, 26. "For a long time, Ginza had the image of being a place for sophisticated grown-ups, and I hardly came here to shop. But that image is changing. Ginza is becoming more approachable."

In order to best serve customers from all over the world visiting Ginza, the store offers for the first time a concierge service. The concierge staff will provide information on the Ginza and Yurakucho districts, act as fashion adviser and help customers enjoy the best shopping.

Native speakers of six different languages will attend to customers (Japanese, English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Korean). Foreign customers will recognize their native language by a name tag.

Uniqlo is enjoying rapid expansion abroad, and says it hopes to promote sales at home with the new flagship store.

Fast Retailing Co CEO Tadashi Yanai said that Uniqlo is aiming to open between 200 and 300 stores per year worldwide to boost its global presence and compete with bigger rivals such as clothing giant Gap and Spain’s Zara.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


47 Comments
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In another first for the clothing retailer, approximately 20% of the store’s staff, or about 100 employees, are non-Japanese who speak Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and French.

20% sales guaranteed, but wishing them more !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One small step for "real" internationalization. Will this have any effect on Galapagos-ica?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Finally a company in Japan that has a clue!

5 ( +8 / -2 )

Horray! Foreigners in a clothing store! Japan is opening!

I think my favorite combini is more international than Uniqlo then.

Come one. This is a store that wants to attract foreigners. Ginza? Tourists?

Gaijin ghetto syndrome again...

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

No Russian store staff? There are a lot of Russians in this area. Maybe they dont shop at Uniqlo??!

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

20% of the store's staff, or about 100 employees, are non-Japanese.

And

Fifteen native speakers of six different languages

I'm confused. If 20% of the staff are non-Japanese, then there are 500 employees? But there are only 15 native speakers (including Japanese)?

Unless the 'or' in the first sentence should have been 'of'. And the second sentence above is referring only to the concierge service?

In any case, Fast Retailing certainly is getting more and more ambitious and creative.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wish their clothes fit me!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Uniqlo sell XXL sizes online only.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Borscht:

They probably missed the "each". In that case it makes sense.

It's a good plan. Being serviced in Japan by a non-Japanese is indeed a very cool feature. Would love to see more foreign employees in the service sector.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I went to a interview for this job there, it was like 8 people to one person(A very Young Japanese Girl) anyway for some reason, I was dropped??? Been here for 20 years, but I guess Yes Age may have some thing in that area? But in my group, One Girl from Colombia, a dude from Ghana, and me, U.S., and the other five Chinese,

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Until they start including "foreign" sizes, it's all lip service.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Would like to head over right away, but knowing how Tokyoites like to line of for new things, I doubt I'll have the patience to stand in line to get in. Although I think it's a really good idea to have hire a few foreign-born people, I wish it wouldn't have to be made in ti such an event: "Come over on Friday! New Uniqlo - now with inhouse FOREIGNERS!"

That being said, the move is correct. In an area where many foreigners are, it's only natural to tend to them in the best way possible and that includes being able to communicate. The Ginza Apple store and Yodobashi in Akiba does this right too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

(Yeah, OK, so a few typos and misplaced words in my post above. Guess the iPhone wasn't meant for typing anyway...)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wonder what the salary is for a native gaigo speaking sales assistant.

Johanes Weber

Being serviced in Japan by a non-Japanese is indeed a very cool feature

It's not bad, but I prefer to be serviced by a Japanese.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The salary? Same as for locals, of course.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tairitsuiken

Well it's not of course, that's why I was wondering. it may be the same, but I don't understand why people would end up working in Japan as a Sales Assistant when it's such a run-of-the-mill job, unless there were other rewards to go along with it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Uniqlo, good quality, reasonable price.

Some sizing issues for larger foreigners, while I could surely lose a few kg Im not that big and it can be sometimes tough to get something that looks ok and fits, that said, half my wardrobe is Uniqlo.

My main issue is why do the socks end at 27cm.. my 29-30cm will never change length no matter my weight. (apparently larger socks are available online)

Anyway, good for them, a company that seems to be actually moving forward and opening up, lets hope the working conditions for the employees is a little more open and reasonable than what they are for many "part-timers around the country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

another prime example of comany expanding too fast. just like starbuks had done and failed (although now tjey have reorganized and closed down so many) so will uniqlo. 200-300 stores per year world wide!!! theres no recovery after that!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@oikawa

Many language students can work a few hours to get some extra money. They are hired locally, thus have the same contracts as locals do. Of course. Maybe even some Japan fanatics applied from overseas but no way are they paid more than the locals. I doubt they have foreign staff transfered from abroad to have them work in a store. Those people (if any) can be found in corporate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I don't need XXL sizes, I'm thin, fit and average-sized. I'm talking about the "Japan fit" issue. Sleeves too short, shoulders same size as waist as if the body is a narrow rectangle, rump area so tight I'd rip out of the pants if I squatted down,crotch seam saws up into me like floss, thighs pencil-thin so I can't move freely or get my hand into the pockets. I'm a scrawny Caucasian, but when I put on Uniqlo, I feel like Mr. Universe trying on boys' clothes. To be fair, I have the opposite problem at The Gap, where their clothes hang off me like a tent.

3 ( +3 / -2 )

500 employees? I dont think Disneyland has that many staff.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Horray! Foreigners in a clothing store! Japan is opening!

Guess what? There are a lot of long term, if not permanent, foreign residents working at a variety of companies in Japan already. Some of them even get promoted, if they deserve it. It's been like this for years.

Speak the language, look around. It's that simple.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Personally I think its great that Uniqlo is employing so many foreigners as frontline staff...Japanese companies like that , internationally focused and open minded deserve to do well. Dentshop - I think a lot of those 500 employees would be part timers , working several days per week / few hours per day rosters...pretty standard practice in retail..so I,d guess at any given time you might have maybe a 100 to 150 on the store premises depending on customer traffic numbers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Native speakers of six different languages will attend to customers (Japanese, English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Korean).

6 different ways of saying, "Sorry, we only carry S, M, L"

Include more sizes.

Make "Irrashaimase" actually mean something.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Saw a few pics and I just can't understand why would people wait in line for so long to get inside a store. Even if they had some limited release items or giveaways.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is the Chinese Mandarin, or Cantonese?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People complaining about the lack of larger sizes at Uniqlo should get off the keyboard and onto the treadmill for a bit.

-3 ( +3 / -5 )

I can't believe people would come on holiday to look in chain stores. No wonder the world's in recession.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As others have stated, it's great to see some gaijins getting a start in the shop. Hopefully many, many more shops in Tokyo will take their lead and employ foreigners.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think it is a great step forward for a company employing foreigners here. Uniqlo set an example and hopefully others will take notice. I can wear all their M sizes but as others mentioned, the legs and sleeves are too short for me very often.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ReformedBasher:

Guess what? There are a lot of long term, if not permanent, foreign residents working at a variety of companies in Japan already. Some of them even get promoted, if they deserve it. It's been like this for years.

Speak the language, look around. It's that simple.

Really? Sarcasms about posts above mine, "It's that simple." Read the entire post, "It's that simple."

I don't see why this is so special. Just business,"It's that simple." (I'm working for a Japanese company with many other foreigners for more than a decade)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@cubic at 183 cm and feet that are 29.5 cm to 30 cm it has nothing to do with being overweight... even their sizes that I could wear have shrunk... the XL shirts I used to buy 5 years ago the sleeves were long enough to reach my hands and tails were long enough to stay tucked in but all 3 of the shirts I bought of the same exact size as my previous shirts they were a whole 2 cm shorter... I didn't even have to measure, but did, you could hold the older shirt up to the newer shirt and see the difference. Common sense would lead one to believe the smaller one should be the older one due to being washed numerous times thus shrinking as cotton tends to do but that was not the case ....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My local Super employs many foreigners too, you hardly notice them as most tend to be chinese or korean. Many stores empty them. Hard to find and african(many which of run their their own clothing store) or caucasian being employed.

Makes sense for the Ginza store to have multiple language speakers which you most likely don't need in the areas where you get fewer tourists.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

ThreeDogsF got it right. If you're tall, or have shoulders, muscles or an athletic build, forget it. Good news is more and more foreign shops will ship direct to Japan now from their online stores. I got some stuff from American Eagle Outfitters that way. Too old for their faddish teenage seasonal styles, but they always have a lot of other basic stuff without logos or gimmickry. Anyone else have a recommendation for a decent online clothing shop for men who aren't teen mall rats?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe just because they're in the news a lot? Almost every UNIQLO story I see on here is one that I saw on the news the same morning. They spent a ton of time covering every aspect of this new store on TV today.l

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cool! But I don't like to rely on attendants anyway when I do my shopping. I just look up to a couple of things I like, try them on, and if I'm convinced, go to the cashier, pay, and I'm ready to go. Though that process usually takes me a good hour, more or less LOL! Specially when there's so many options. UNIQLO has good quality clothes, I specially like those T-shirts with pretty designs..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@cactusJack--the reason is this is an advertorial. JT specializes in this genre.

@himawari--Uniqlo was on the TV 'news' this morning for the same reason they're on JT: they paid for the media coverage.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Been thinking. Much of that foreign staff might be here for only 6-12 mnths before being shipped to overseas stores. They did something similar with the recent US store openings overseas, staff came over to get trained in local shops.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

why do they have foreign staff in Ginza?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I@Well- if this will be the tradition and trend of all big stores where Japanese youth-young japanese will go for Job?--and what about small retailer of local area? They will have to shutter down? We don't need this big Store.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bring it to the US! I am size large but on the small side! Medium here is too small and large size hangs on me like rags! I would love to have a knowledgeable sales assistant, with taste, to help with my decisions! Style, quality and value! It is all good as long as the world isn't shopping at Wal mart! The last nice shirt I purchased was to my liking but the first time I tried to use the pocket snap/button, half of it fell off! And, after the first washing, the seam above the other pocket started to come undone! Some tried to tell me it added character to the garment! What? $55 for a rag to wipe the dirt off something! I suppose the sizes are made for the typical over weight person here!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love UNIQLO, sadly, I don't get to go out there all too often, but one thing I have noticed that anyone applying for management position have to speak with senior leadership in Japan, so I expect that many of the foreigners working in Japan are working there as part of management training before returning to home countries to take up management rolls.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hilarious, I was just in the NY "flagship" and he was boasting about how it's the largest one in the world. I asked him how that's true, he turned off his microphone and said a Japanese flagship would trump it soon. Guess he wasn't lying.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow cubic. I'm tall, and Thin, extremely fit. Uniglo doesn't fit be because of my height. Just as most "Japanese sizes" don't cater to tall people...plus I find the stretch in their jeans loses up so fast I'm pulling my pants up all day! (size 26) Would be great if their sizes weren't cut like a square with short arms. This goes with saying the same for gap...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

yei uniglo soon to be hangten

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having flag ship store with huge spaces in urban area in each countries like New york, Paris, Tokyo-Ginza doesn't make sense because it's non profitable from the cost point view. Foe example, in case of Tokyo-Ginza described in the article, it seems non profitable as it prepares bilingual staff who can help foreigner shopping. And I can imagine the property cost is too huge to make it profitable.

On the other hand, It'll be reasonable if UNIQLO should have compact flagship shops in urban area with small space to do branding and in meanwhile UNIQLO should prepare tax free shop w/big spaces in each international airport in Japan. Definitely tax free should get foreigners motivated to buy clothes before leaving Japan to consume JPN bill completely.

UNIQLO should be calm to think about their biz model. I'm quite doubtful that UNIQLO could be successful by only having flagship shop in urban area. Generally speaking, backing to UNQILO's biz model, their base in making money is the shop w/space in local area. No matter where they expand biz into, they should have shops w/huge space in local area. Otherwise, the biz model will collapse consequently.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sasakama.

Uniqlo is like Muji, they got stores everywhere you go in Japan. My city has about 5 stores of each outside 3 train-stations.

Their business model works as they expanded from Japan globally and are well known by now overseas. A flagship store is just a flashier/bigger version of the local ones.

The same business model also works for overseas stores globally.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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