Uniqlo appoints Foster to get in touch with UK

Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo has recruited former Body Shop UK managing director Bernie Foster to the new role of chief operating officer in Britain. She will join the business next month.

Foster left Body Shop in August after three years in the managing director’s job and was previously managing director of Miss Selfridge.

She will report to Uniqlo chief executive Masatoshi Morita, who is also finance director of the Japanese parent company, Fast Retailing.

A Uniqlo spokeswoman said the retailer had been searching for local knowledge.

‘We were always looking for someone from the market here too,’ she said.

UK management is important for Uniqlo as it seeks to localise its range.

The store group admitted earlier this season that it had failed to transfer Japanese lines successfully to the UK.

The proportion of UK-only lines will increase by next year as a result.

Sizing, colours and the balance of womenswear is also being altered for the UK market.

Uniqlo last week reported UK sales of £14 million for the seven months of trading to May.

An operating loss of£20 million was partly the result of heavy set-up costs and intense launch advertising.

The retailer hopes to halve the loss by next year and forecasts sales to May 2003 of£41 million, generating an operating loss of£11 million.

Uniqlo will have 21 British stores by the end of next month and will open four shops in the spring.

Fast Retailing last week reported its first drop in sales and profit since 1994.