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Posted : 2010-08-19 17:11
Updated : 2010-08-19 17:11

Budget attire maker Uniqlo gears for expansion


Actress Kong Hyo-jin poses for Uniqlo's advertising campaign for the Korean market. She was hired to project a more consumer-friendly image in Korea.
/ Courtesy of Uniqlo
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia

Japanese retailer Uniqlo is aggressively expanding its Korean operations, with plans to open five new large stores in Seoul, Busan, Ilsan and Suwon in the second half of the year.

As it competes with H&M and Zara in the Korean market, Uniqlo is intensifying its marketing campaign and pushing its children’s line to capture more consumers.

``In the second half, we are opening large stores, expanding our kid’s line and getting a Korean celebrity model, as part of the marketing strategy and brand consolidation in the domestic market. We are continuing to lead in the domestic market,’’ a Uniqlo marketing official said.

Uniqlo is opening stores in Lotte Department Stores in Cheongyangni, Seoul and in Gwangbok, Busan and Hyundai Department Store in Ilsan this month. The Uniqlo store in Lotte Gwangbok will be 1,744 square meters, the biggest of any brand in the city.

Next month, it will open another one in Lotte Department Store in Centum City, Busan, and in November, a store in AK Plaza in Suwon. Current Uniqlo stores in Lotte Young Plaza in Seoul and Lotte Department Store in Ilsan are under renovation and will reopen next month.

This would bring the total number of Uniqlo stores to 53 in Korea, the most of any SPA (specialty store for private label apparel) brand.

Uniqlo will also start selling its children’s clothing line in its major stores around the country. The company said there is a lot of room for growth in the children’s clothing segment.

Along with the children’s clothes, by opening new stores and renovating old ones Uniqlo is offering a one-stop shopping location for the entire family.

In order to project a more consumer-friendly image in Korea, Uniqlo has hired actress Kong Hyo-jin for its advertising campaign in the local market.

Kong, who starred in the films ``Crush and Blush’’ and ``M,’’ will appear in various advertisements on TV and in magazines. She has just finished photo shoots in Japan for the fall and winter collections.

Uniqlo is operated in Korea by a joint venture with Lotte Shopping and Japanese retail giant Fast Retailing Group.

The Japanese company is intensifying its efforts to become a global fashion retailer, challenging Sweden’s H&M and Spain’s Zara. Its international sales already account for more than 10 percent of its total business, but its goal is to make it half of the total Uniqlo business within five years.

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