Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo is re-launching its London Regent Street store as the brand continues its focus on global expansion.
Opening on Thursday morning, the store showcases a number of new innovations and is operating under the tagline “Uniqlo makes Regent Street happy”.
Focusing on ‘random acts of happiness’, the opening will offer customers heavily discounted items from a large ‘Happy Machine’ – a vending machine which will drop specific products including Ultra Light Down jackets and merino sweaters, from the ceiling into a cylindrical pod at different times throughout the first three days of trading.
The store will open in the same week as the retailer launches a shop in New York’s famous Fifth Avenue, and it incorporates a number of similar and identical design innovations to maintain consistency and build brand recognition.
Takao Kuwahara, CEO of Uniqlo Europe and Group Officer, explained the importance of consistency.
He told Retail Gazette: “The latest retail design is in correlation with New York’s store, everything from design to fixtures has been upgraded. We need to communicate to our customers what Uniqlo is and we want to spread that message inside the store.
“Stairs and in-store digital offerings are the same as New York so that it doesn’t matter where the store is, the concept remains the same and you can feel that this is always Uniqlo.”
The company is on target to open 300 stores per year globally and Kuwahara points out that standing out in a crowded market is key to development.
“We are trying to communicate with customers to differentiate ourselves from competitors such as Marks & Spencer, Next and European competitors also; there are so many stores on Regent Street and in the West End so we need to show what is different here.”
The company has worked hard to ensure that its advertising campaigns are relatable to customers around the world in order to establish brand familiarity.
Jamie Campbell Bower, a British actor best known for his role in the Twilight films, and musician and model Leah Weller, are the faces of the UK campaign.
Charlotte Bouvier, Director of Marketing & Communications for the company, told this publication: “We use local celebrities as models in our in-store imagery as, although we are global, we want to stay local and keep involved in the local market.”
The group recently opened a store at Westfield Stratford City, which is the first shop to open in line with the new global standard for the company, which ensures that all fittings, fixtures and digital panels are consistent across all locations.
An atrium at the store entrance has been created as well as a glass display tank at the front of the store and Regent Street’s offering will remain in line with the layout of the store, which launched with a ‘Have You Seen our Sheep?’ campaign last month.
“The campaign was very popular and kept that element of fun. Being creative online gets people interested and keeps customers close,” explained Bouvier.
“There is a Regent Street-specific website in line with the Fifth Avenue website launched at the same time. We understand the importance of talking to people and have created a very strong online social community.”
In keeping with this focus on technology, the third floor of the West End store, which houses the latest menswear collection, also showcases the Uniqlo calendar via a flat-screen. The award-winning innovation offers unique web content and is in keeping with the brand’s interest in online media campaigns.
In 2009, Uniqlo unveiled a banner campaign of two parts, firstly a blog and website widget and then the various ensuing banners accessed via a widget that formed part of a competition to promote its end-of-year clearance sale.
‘Uniqlo Tweet Show’ was established last year as an interactive digital campaign which synced with customers’ Twitter accounts to pull random tweets and mix them with the brand’s unique video content.
Bouvier noted that, while technology is important, it is used in collaboration with deeper values at the company.
“Experimenting with technology is important but being Uniqlo is the most important thing and maintaining consistency worldwide is crucial. We focus on core items to provide our values and this is what makes us different from competitors; Japanese values of cleanliness and ease of use are maintained everywhere.”