The Spanish 'Big 3' have long resisted Uniqlo's Spanish arrival, but the Japanese company has now finally landed in Barcelona, with Madrid next up on its list of cities.
Neatly in between Zara and Mango
The Japanese company has allegedly managed to sign a rental agreement for a large store in the heart of the Catalan capital, according to usually well-informed El Confidencial. "Allegedly", because the news will only be officially confirmed after the upcoming City Council elections on 31 May. Uniqlo has its heart set on a 2,500 sqm store, spread over three floors, on the corner of the busy Passeig de Gracia and Gran Via. That would be a strategically important location, at walking distance of its two major Spanish competitors.
On the one side of the Gran Via, customers can soon visit the world's largest Zara as its Inditex owner will create a 6,500 sqm store - another 1,500 sqm larger than its current largest store, in Madrid. On the other side, Mango has one of its largest stores, which means that young people who want to go from Zara to Mango or the other way around, will automatically pass by the new Japanese rival.
First Barcelona, then Madrid?
Fast Retailing Group, Uniqlo's parent company, has been eager to open a Spanish store since 2013 and almost managed to do so last year: it also targeted a store in Barcelona (a former Bankia bank office), but Desigual, another large Spanish fashion company, managed to beat Uniqlo to the deal.
Spanish media believes Uniqlo is also looking for a location in Madrid, with the historic Mercado de Fuencarral as its prime target, but it has apparently changed focus to the renovated retail area at the historic Calle Gran Via.
By the end of 2014, Uniqlo had some 2,750 stores worldwide, worth 10 billion euro in turnover. CEO Tadashi Yanai aims to become the world's largest chain by 2020, with a 5 trillion yen turnover (some 36 billion euro).