Sagar Malviya, The Economic Times
September 13, 2022
Uniqlo, Asia’s biggest clothing brand, has turned profitable in India in less than three years after it opened its first store in the country despite operating in a period marked by Covid-led lockdowns and restrictions.
The Japanese brand posted a net profit of ₹21.4 crore for 2021-22 compared to a loss of ₹36.1 crore in the previous year, according to business intelligence firm AltInfo. Its sales rose 63% year on year to ₹391.7 crore for the year to March 2022, a slower pace compared to FY21 when it clocked 86% sales growth on a low base.
Experts feel Uniqlo’s strategy of pricing its merchandise at least 20% higher than rivals Zara and H&M has helped it earn better margins despite inflationary pressures in terms of raw materials.
“The market is not easy and turning profitable at a time when most rivals are spending aggressively is a good indication of success. As an international brand, they (Uniqlo) are able to get good locations and are preferred tenants, which helps in generating sales, especially in top cities,” said Devangshu Dutta, founder of Third Eyesight, a strategy consulting firm. “However, the pricing is a bit premium and until they are able to source locally, selling products at a right value for the market will remain challenging.”
The Japanese brand opened its first door in the country in September 2019, but stringent lockdown measures announced in March 2020 to contain the Covid-19 outbreak delayed its store expansion plans, restricting its store count to about seven outlets so far.
Uniqlo has said India is one of the most priority markets where consumers are increasingly shifting from ‘fast-fashion’ to long-lasting essentials and functional wear. “India is an important and very big priority market,” Tomohiko Sei, CEO of Uniqlo India told ET in June.
(Published in The Economic Times)