The Japanese fashion retailer, which retreated from the UK just two years after its debut in 2001, is considering opening stores of up to a quarter of the size of its customary 10,000 to 15,000 sq ft format to expand across London and the M25 catchment area.
The move follows the successful opening of a 3,500 sq ft store in Paris in November to test trading in European markets outside the UK. At the same time, the retailer also opened two flagship stores on London’s Oxford Street.
Uniqlo chief operating officer Simon Coble said that the Paris store, in Quatre Temps shopping centre at La Défense, will provide the blueprint for the retailer to test smaller stores at UK shopping centres.
Coble said: “Our core strategy is to open bigger stores in the UK, but, hand-in-hand with that, we are also looking at opportunities where we can get smaller sites in shopping centres, or high-traffic areas where we can’t find the larger space.”
The smaller stores will stock an edited range. Coble said the retailer will pilot one smaller store in the UK, a suitable site for which has not yet been secured.
James Ebel, director at Uniqlo’s property agent Harper Dennis Hobbs, said: “Uniqlo’s Oxford Street flagship stores have shown landlords what the brand can do.”