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WHO NEEDS TOKYO?
Fast Growing Firms Hail from Outside Nation's Capital
November 9, 2000
What has appeared to be a meteoric rise, though, has actually been one of meticulous planning. Fast Retailing traces its roots back to 1949, when a small men's shop opened in the city of Ube in Yamaguchi Prefecture at the western tip of Japan's main island, Honshu. It was around 1984 when it started focusing on casual wear and launched a multiple-outlet strategy. In 1996 it built factories in China to supply massive volumes of casual clothes tailored to Fast Retailing's strict standards.
In the winter of 1999/2000 it sold out some 8 million fleece jackets for 1,900 yen (17 dollars) each. Because other shops were selling comparable jackets for around 6,000 yen (55 dollars), it was no wonder that consumers snapped them up. In spring 2000, moreover, it sold out 5 million denim jackets.
What makes Uniqlo so special? For one thing, it does everything in-house, from planning and design to manufacturing and sales, linking the producer directly with the customer. It maintains high quality, moreover, by requiring its factories in China and other Asian countries to conform to a check list of standards containing over 50 items.
Practically a Giveaway
Daiso was launched in Hiroshima Prefecture in 1972, but at the time it did not even have a store. Household items were piled into a 2-ton truck and sold at various locations around town. The business began taking off, and soon placing price tags on each little item became meddlesome. So the owner came up with the idea of selling everything for 100 yen. This became a hit with penny-wise consumers, and in the early 1990s the roving format was replaced with physical outlets. By 1998 the number of shops nationwide had exploded to over 1,000.
Supermarket for Used Books
These outlets, which first appeared in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1991, are worlds apart from the dim, dusty image commonly associated with used book shops. They are clean, brightly lit and have clear glass walls. There are already over 500 outlets around the country, and shops have opened in Hawaii and New York.
Road Map to the Future
Copyright (c) 2000 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.