Japanese retailer Uniqlo plans Bay Area e-commerce center

TOKYO — Uniqlo, the clothes retailer whose designs are popular across Asia, is turning to the Bay Area to ramp up its online store.

Nobuo Domae, Uniqlo executive vice president who oversees the company’s growing U.S. strategy, said in an interview that the retailing giant plans to set up e-commerce operations in the Bay Area. The company launched a beta online sales site last fall. The move comes as Uniqlo (pronounced YOU-nee-klo) begins a massive expansion in the United States and Bay Area.

Domae said the Bay Area, not Japan, is where the e-commerce technical and marketing experts are located.

“We understand there are a lot of good people there,” he said. “We need to set up our infrastructure there. We don’t have a lot of home-grown e-commerce companies. That industry needs entrepreneurs. In Japan, (the industry) is not so strong.”

The Web site is being launched first in the United States and will be expanded to Japan and other parts of Asia, Domae said.

Uniqlo’s e-commerce site, while growing quickly, is producing a very small slice of the company’s revenue, he added.

Uniqlo sells jeans, T-shirts and other basics with an urban flair. As of November, Uniqlo had 851 stores in Japan and 347 outside the country, including five in the United States. The company opened a San Francisco store last fall. Uniqlo specializes in casual wear for men, women and children.

The Mercury News looks at the company’s Bay Area plans in this article.





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