Uniqlo reveals 'cautious' expansion in Spain
Uniqlo’s first store in Madrid is opening its doors to the public in the former Serrano Garden this Thursday, as the brand plans to grow "cautiously" in the country.
“It was almost an obsession,” said Alberto Martín, marketing director of Uniqlo Spain. “Madrid is our third largest city in Europe and, after two successful years in Barcelona, opening here is a big step in our growth strategy across the country,” he said.
“We plan to open further locations. The main focus is on Madrid and Barcelona, although we wouldn’t rule out other cities. It's about seeing where we can open in the conditions we expect.”
Uniqlo will open its third store in Barcelona on October 30 and more locations could follow in this popular tourist destination, however the brand is reluctant to have an extensive store estate in Spain. “We are cautious when it comes to our expansion strategy. It's not about opening stores at all costs,” Martín continued.
Still, the brand is confident about its debut in Madrid. “We know that the people of Madrid will like what we bring to the city,” he commented, adding that Uniqlo’s success has been rooted in its honesty. “Uniqlo is a very honest brand. The product proposition works well, with quality clothing being sold at affordable prices. Those who try our clothes always end up wanting more. However, our path is long as we need people to try the product first,” the marketing director said.
The first Uniqlo store to open in Madrid will be located in the heart of the city’s Golden Mile, not far from Loewe, Prada, Max Mara and Miu Miu. At first sight, the upscale area could seem a curious choice for the brand. “Uniqlo is not a luxury brand, but the high quality of our product is closer to that of high-end brands. Additionally, the area has undergone a recent transformation which has seen other kinds of brands open there. Fashion has changed a lot and we are no longer afraid to mix things,” he explained.
With a third store opening in Madrid, Spain is increasingly becoming a key market for the business. The chain has a presence in ten European markets through more than 90 stores, and Spanish consumers are slowly but surely starting to embrace the company’s vision for technical fabrics and functional design.
“The brand has been well received. The two stores in Barcelona are trading well and our e-commerce business, with 100,000 users in the database, is experiencing exponential growth since we announced plans to open in Madrid. All indicators are showing positive signs in terms of goals, product and customer feedback,” Alberto Martín said.
Uniqlo says it has a high conversion level, because “when consumers try our products, they always wanting more". In terms of prices, global presence and infrastructure, it competes with fast fashion giants, and in Spain, Inditex’s home country, it faces competition from Zara and other brands of the group.
“We have lots of respect for Zara and Inditex, however we have very different business models. We have both a democratic view of the fashion world, but while Inditex leans more towards trends, we prioritise product quality. How can we compete? With quality product,” Martín concluded. Coincidence or not, Uniqlo’s new Madrid store is located a stone’s throw away from Zara on Serrano Street.
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