china

Old Navy Debuts in China with Very American Outlook

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 4, 2014 11:53 AM

It may be prominently billing itself as "from San Francisco," but it was Los Angeles' USC Trojan marching band that performed at the March 1 opening of China's first Old Navy store.

The rainy Shanghai opening featured other bits of Americana like cheerleaders, the stars and stripes, a giant gum ball machine, Caucasian bellhops in tails, and vintage cigarette girls. A man dressed as a giant camera snapped photos of visitors under a giant scoreboard—Old Navy vs. Guest—that lit up the floor. Others handed out hundreds of shiny blue and white balloons. A fire engine red, double decker tourist bus emblazoned with the Old Navy logo sat outside the store.

Localization may be all the rage for businesses in China, but there was nothing about the Old Navy opening that was Chinese. The store's signs are all in English. In fact, Old Navy doesn't even have a Chinese name. That appears to be the brand's strategy for China, though it is likely a doomed one.Continue reading...

retail watch

Could Drexler and Yanai Make J.Crew the Middle Man in Fast Retailing's Empire?

Posted by Dale Buss on March 4, 2014 10:42 AM

Hoping to capitalize on the chain's success even as competing retailers falter, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing is reportedly in talks to buy preppy clothier J.Crew. Could J.Crew become the missing jewel in Fast Retailing's bid to become the globe's biggest retailer?

Just last week there were rumors that J.Crew was planning its second IPO as a way to gain access to funds for expansion. CEO Mickey Drexler and creative head Jenna Lyons have turned the brand around over the last decade, making the mid-priced brand extremely attractive to Fast Retailing, which hopes to take advantage of J.Crew's accomplishments and build on them even as some iconic competitors, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, struggle with the finicky retailing scene.

But just because the retailer has managed some success doesn't mean it came easy. The inveterate micro-manager has admitted that J.Crew recently has "strayed too far" from the brand's core styling motif and that the company's recent opening in the UK was "tricky."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Uniqlo Rejects Bangladesh Safety Agreement as Worker Unrest Spreads

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 28, 2013 05:12 PM

Uniqlo, the fourth-largest retail brand in the world, has gone the way of Walmart and refused to sign the Bangladesh safety agreement, opting instead to monitor its factories on its own.

"We want to first focus on what we can do right now, on our own," Yukihiro Nitta, head of Fast Retailing's Corporate Social Responsibility group told the Wall Street Journal. He said the company also will hire a Japanese company to assess the soundness of its suppliers' factories in Bangladesh, noting that ultrasound and x-ray technology can be used to check for cracks in concrete and piping.

Most of the 30 companies who have signed, including Uniqlo’s rival H&M, are European. Meanwhile, American companies including Walmart, Gap, JCPenney, Sears and Target have all held out on the point that the agreement includes a legally-binding clause, one that they argue could hurt US companies more than their international counterparts. For Uniqlo, this isn’t the first time the company, owned by Japan’s Fast Retailing, has come under activist pressure. Earlier this year, the brand bowed to a cause to sign a detox pledge spearheaded by Greenpeace, in which the company agreed to stop releasing hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain and products by 2020.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Uniqlo, Renault, ESPN and more

Posted by Dale Buss on May 28, 2013 09:24 AM

In the News

Uniqlo kept out of Bangladesh safety pact by owner Fast Retailing.

Renault suffers blow from failure of Better Place EV startup.

ESPN layoffs underscore sports-network battle and soaring rights fees.

Acura eyes emerging markets.

BMW hints at bringing out super-luxury coupe with a Pininfarina touch.

BuzzFeed, CNN and YouTube plan online-video channel.

Club Med buyout sees large role for Chinese investors.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Microsoft, Suzuki, Apple and more

Posted by Dale Buss on December 4, 2012 09:01 AM

In the News

Microsoft denied "Killer Instinct" trademark, as Microsoft-Google patent fight rests on "fairness" definition and Motorola is denied injuction against Microsoft in patent suit. Microsoft-Intel push to combat Apple in tablet space, meanwhile, seen as "sputtering."

American Suzuki forges ahead with incentives amid US wind down.

Apple wins six new design patents, sees increasing pricing tension with retailers and Steve Jobs bio pic starring Ashton Kutcher heading to Sundance.

Applebee's plans to open "green" restaurant in New York's Harlem where Hot Bread Kitchen is a rising local brand.

Balenciaga hires designer Alexander Wang as creative chief.

Baxter agrees to buy medical-equipment maker Gambro in company's biggest acquisition.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: UBS Sees $2B Loss, Esprit Sinks, Uniqlo Rises

Posted by Dale Buss on September 15, 2011 09:00 AM

In the News

UBS warns of big losses (up to $2 billion) on rogue trades, leading to employee arrest in London.

Esprit divests North American business as profit drops 98%.

Fast Retailing, parent of Uniqlo, sets big expansion plans (opening up to 300 stores/year) as brand that "represents" Japan.

Groupon plans to put IPO back on track.

Al Gore's 24-hour Climate Reality webcast irks some.

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves insists that TV ad market is holding up.

Crocs banned for nurses in Wales.

DuPont wins nearly $1 billion in damages in Kevlar-secrets case.Continue reading...

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