GU has grown from scratch to sales of ¥83 billion in seven years and expects to hit ¥100 billion this year. It continues to expand store numbers rapidly while working on new, more fashionable merchandising as it begins to expand overseas.
GU, Fast Retailing’s second chain, is forecasting sales will hit ¥100 billion for the year ending August, up from ¥83.7 billion last year. It had 214 stores as of the end of FY2013 and says it will open 30 new stores in the three months to June alone including a new 500 sqm store in Shibuya and a 1,200 sqm store in Gunma. In 1H2013 GU opened 40 stores including its first overseas in Shanghai, and by the end of the financial year expects to have 277 stores, with the longer term aim of matching Uniqlo’s domestic tally – 850 stores.
GU is investing heavily in promotions including new TV spots and SNS campaigns for this Spring/Summer following strong results in Autumn/Winter – GU now claims some 10 million members for its mobile app thanks partly to using so-called gamification to entice users and linking the app to actual store sales.
From this Spring, GU is also introducing more fashionable merchandise, aiming to take global trends and adapt them for domestic tastes and appetite for ‘cuteness’. Since 2011 GU has produced a monthly trend collection, but will increase the number of SKUs in the collection by 30% to 1,600 from this Spring. Menswear is also getting an update, adding to the stock American casual look with more fashion lines as well as a new business attire range with prices of just ¥3,000 for a jacket and ¥2,000 for trousers, creating a new low in suit prices of just ¥5,000.
To improve sell through, GU will also expand the ‘Osharista’ programme launched last year – a training programme for promising staff tasked with advising customers on creating looks and styling. 100 stores will have a combined 170 style advisers from this Spring with the aim to roll out the programme to all stores by next year.
Fast Retailing: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Keeping investors stringing along as usual, Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing president and main shareholder, confirmed last month that he expects his first and second sons to take top management posts in the group in the near future, although Yanai did hint that he might make someone else president. Yanai said he saw his sons as chairman and vice-president.
Although in the past he has said he didn’t necessarily expect to keep the top positions in the family, it would be unusual for a retail leader’s sons not to take over and both men have held senior management positions in the organisation for some time. Yanai also reiterated that Fast Retailing continued to look for acquisition targets – this despite the collapse of talks to acquire J Crew last month with Fast Retailing rumoured to be unhappy about the buying price.
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