‘Eas­ing of pro­cesses can at­tract more biz’

Price War Has No Fu­ture, Won’t Ben­e­fit Cus­tomer: Uniqlo Founder Tadashi Yanai

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global - John Sarkar & Suro­jit Gupta

Tadashi Yanai, chair­man, pres­i­dent and CEO of Fast Re­tail­ing, of which Uniqlo is a sub­sidiary, is cur­rently Ja­pan’s rich­est man with a net worth of $24.9 bil­lion. From work­ing in his fa­ther’s road­side tai­lor­ing shop, the 70-year-old bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man founded one of the world’s largest ap­parel re­tail com­pa­nies with op­er­a­tions in around 21 mar­kets glob­ally. In an in­ter­view to TOI in his spank­ing new store, Yanai talks about In­dia’s im­por­tance as a mar­ket and what tra­di­tional brick & mor­tar re­tail­ers can do to over­come chal­lenges posed by tech­nol­ogy driven dis­rup­tion. Ex­cerpts:

You are start­ing a store in In­dia at a time when there is aslow­down in con­sump­tion. How do you view mar­ket?

I am less wor­ried about the eco­nomic in­dex. We are sell­ing peo­ple daily prod­ucts like cloth­ing. In our in­dus­try, there is a say­ing rather than econ­omy, cli­mate and weather mat­ter most. Rather than cli­mate and weather, en­ergy mat­ters most. There­fore I am less wor­ried about eco­nomic slow­down.

You have strong com­peti­tors who are well es­tab­lished. How does a new brand fit in?

We are go­ing our way. I am less wor­ried about com­peti­tors. I am less in­ter­ested in what other brands are do­ing. No mat­ter where you go across the world, all ma­jor cities are very crowded. There is keen com­pe­ti­tion go­ing on ev­ery­where.

Will prod­ucts from In­dia be sold in other Uniqlo stores

across the world?

We say global is lo­cal and lo­cal is global. Wher­ever we have high qual­ity in lo­cal mar­ket, it would have a global ap­peal. We be­lieve in that.

What do you think mod­ern re­tail­ers should do against the back­drop of ris­ing in­flu­ence of e-com­merce?

I am less wor­ried about our com­peti­tors. I am less in­ter­ested in what other brands are do­ing… There is keen com­pe­ti­tion go­ing on ev­ery­where Mod­ern re­tail­ers need to go back to the ba­sics. There is a Ja­panese proverb. Stores ex­ist for sake of cus­tomers. Stores have no mean­ing for cus­tomers un­less they have good things for ake of cus­tomers. Can you of­fer this kind of en­vi­ron­ment dig­i­tally? An­swer is no. With dig­i­tal, you are not able to get ac­cess to prod­ucts and en­joy the feel, you can never do that.

How do you see the In­dian mar­ket from Uniqlo’s global per­spec­tive?

I would say In­dia is far­thest away from Ja­pan and a gi­gan­tic mar­ket. Let me tell you when I was 19 years old, it was back in 1968 when due to a stu­dents’ move­ment my univer­sity was closed. I had noth­ing else to do, so I took a tour to go across the world. I vis­ited New Delhi for the first time and it was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent New Delhi. But that was an op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand the world. I de­vel­oped a dream of do­ing busi­ness across the world. Here I am back at the age of 70 years to Un­less you dis­rupt tra­di­tional mar­kets, there is no way for­ward to sur­vive

New Delhi and so de­lighted.

Would you ad­vise pol­icy mak­ers to re­duce red tape?

Well if they are able to fa­cil­i­tate the process so that more busi­ness play­ers are able to come in. It took us a great deal of time, if it would have been faster we could have been here faster.

What will be pric­ing plan?

I have no in­ten­tion of pric­ing prod­ucts ag­gres­sively. We are not push­ing prod­ucts be­cause of price. We are of­fer­ing value to cus­tomers. We be­lieve in high-qual­ity gar­ments at an af­ford­able price. If you start to tap into price war, there will be no fu­ture and it will not ben­e­fit cus­tomers.

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