Uniqlo’s Owner Pushes Deeper Into North America With GU Brand

Fast Retailing Co. will open its first GU store in the US, adding to its Uniqlo shops in the country as the apparel maker seeks a greater presence in the North American market.

Opening this fall in Soho, New York, the pop-up store will be GU’s first outside Asia, where there are already 450 outlets selling more stylish and trendy apparel aimed at younger customers. Pronounced with the letters G and U, the brand name is a homonym for the Japanese word for “freedom.”

Although the GU store may be temporary, with plans to remain open until summer of 2023, it reflects Fast Retailing’s desire to conquer the North American market. The company aims to have 200 stores there in five years, up from less than 100 now. Sales of GU clothing and accessories totalled 249 billion yen ($1.9 billion) — or 12 percent of Fast Retailing’s revenue — last fiscal year.

“By opening a pop-up shop in the centre of Soho, we will be able to reach a wide range of customers, including New York residents as well as tourists,” Osamu Yunoki, chief executive officer of the GU business, said in a statement Thursday.

Uniqlo is Fast Retailing’s more better-known brand, with over 800 stores in Japan and more than 1,500 worldwide, selling affordable apparel to a wide range of customers.

By Kanoko Matsuyama

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