Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo is scouting for a global flagship in London to rival its Fifth Avenue landmark store in New York as part of its owner’s ambitions to become the world’s largest clothing retailer.

Takao Kuwahara, UK chairman of Uniqlo, which is owned by Japanese retail giant Fast Retail, told Retail Week he was hunting for a 40,000 sq ft store in areas thought to include Covent Garden, Knightsbridge, Oxford Street and Regent Street.

Uniqlo already has 12 stores in London, but they are considered too small to house the full offer.

Kuwahara said that the flagship was a priority for the European business, although he admitted the search for space could take two to three years.

The European store footprint also includes two stores in Russia and two in France. It has no stores in the UK outside of London.

Fast Retail has 2,088 stores worldwide, 1,000 of which are Uniqlo shops. The group turned over ¥820.3bn (£6.31bn) in the year to August 31, 2011.

Property firm Harper Dennis Hobbs acts for the retailer.