April 16, 2014

Exclusive: Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo opens first Australian store in Melbourne today opened by the founder Tadashi Yanai, Japan's richest man

Video: The opening of Uniqlo's first Australian store in Melbourne, Wednesday 16th April 2014

Source: Japanesecustomer.com YouTube Channel

At 7am this morning in Melbourne, Australia security guards lined Lonsdale street in front of Australia's newest and largest fashion retail space the Emporium Building and questioned morning pedestrians on their way to work as they passed the new shopping centre to be officially opened today with Australia's first Uniqlo store. Dogged with industrial action during its long construction and delayed start date, today it finally opened! 

The air was still cool, the moon still in the sky and the sun slow to rise in the CBD. A buzz was in the air as many people on the street knew about the store and stopped to take photos as they walked past. Staff manning a pop-up coffee stall bounced around to keep warm as they set up, many staff lined the street in front of the store getting ready for the official launch at 9.50am for the official tape cutting by the founder Tadashi Yanai, Japan's richest man with an estimated wealth of AUS $18.2billion.

The crowd slowly built up during the early morning and by the time the tape cut came at 9.50am , Lonsdale street was full of customers lining up waiting to enter the store at 10am. 

Japanese customer service is based on many principles such as omotenashi (hospitality) and kikubari (anticipating customer needs). 

This was in full swing even before customers entered the store with, polite staff keeping those who waited in line, warm with drinks such as freshly brewed coffee. Japanese customer service is the benchmark of Asia, amazing to watch but impossible to replicate or match so far by western companies.

Inside the four storey store, many colourful displays for men, women and children were on display. The store was overstaffed with customer service staff just as in a typical Japanese store, a very good sign for Melbourne shoppers.

Uniqlo is renowned for high quality with low prices and ongoing new products and promotions. Customers are typically spoilt once inside the store. You enter the changing rooms and can get alterations done on the spot if you decide to buy pants in most cases. If a store does not stock an item advertised they will track the item down for you at another store and notify you when it is in stock.

In my experience with Uniqlo in Japan over the past ten years their customer service is world class.

For example

I once bought a business shirt in Tokyo and on returning home found a button hole was not properly sewn. I called the store, spoke to staff and within 2 hours a member of staff, had personally come out to my house and brought a replacement shirt. Yes, WOW! So if this is any indication of what to expect, you will be pleasantly surprised by their customer service.

Picture: Uniqlo logo

Check out some of the products to look for when you visit

Our range of Uniqlo product review videos


 Uniqlo Product Review 

Mens 240 gram down jacket ユニクロ


Product Review Uniqlo Fleece 

Press today announcing today's launch

"Ranked the world's 35th richest person and Japan's richest man at $18.2 billion, Mr (Tadashi) Yanai has ambitious plans for his low-cost casual wear store, a household name in Asia, to revolutionise the Australian fashion market" page 1

"He admits that labour costs and rent in Australia are high and would make it difficult for the company to keep their trademark low prices. "Labour costs and import duty is very high" page 1

"A pop-up Uniqlo store has been operating in Melbourne since January meters away from the Lonsdale street, 2180 square metre, four storey shop" page 8

" Uniqlo is a wholly owned subsidiary of listed Japanese company Fast Retailing and has more than 1200 stores in 14 countries" page 8

Source: Japanese giant Uniqlo uses Australia roadmap
By Patrick Durkin and Lucille Keen
Australian Financial Review
Wed 16th April, 2014

"High profile Japanese retailer Uniqlo is set to open its first Sydney store, taking space at Lend Lease's Mid City Complex at the premier retail strip Pitt Street Mall"

Source: Uniqlo signs for Sydney space
By Mercedes Ruehl
Australian Financial Review
Wed 16th April, 2014, page 37

"You have 20 million population in this marketplace, and we aim for one store per 200,000 people, so 100 stores will be just enough to cover it" Tadashi Yanai "I'm hopeful that 50 more stores could be built in three years, so if that is doable, I'd be very happy" p19

"Uniqlo is also set to launch a new website today specifically for Australian customers who previously were unable to buy Uniqlo's products from the chains international operations" p19

The Australian Newspaper
Wed 16th April, 2014

Video: Mark Hawthorne from the AGE newspaper interviews Tadashi Yanai 

April 14, 2014

"Tired" tourism facilities impacts Australia's chances to attract Asian travellers

Japanese traveller Copyright Peter Hanami 2005
Picture: Japanese traveller 

"The "tiredness" of aging tourism facilities is deterring newly wealthy Asian travellers"

Source: "Worn out tourism sites put Asians off
By Annabel Hepworth
The Australian Newspaper
Tuesday March 11th 2013, page 18

April 07, 2014

Japan posted a 16 per cent increase in exports in January 2014 up from a year earlier

Moving freight in Tokyo Copyright Peter Hanami 2005
Picture: Moving freight in Tokyo 

"Japan posted a record current account deficit in January....Y1.589 trillion...Exports rose 16.7 per cent ....from a year earlier"

Source: Fears of Japan slowdown grow
By Stanley White & Testushi Kajimoto
Australian Financial Review
Tuesday 11th March 2014, page 13

April 01, 2014

Today consumption tax rises in Japan from 5 to 8 percent but still less than half OECD average

Local green grocer Japan Copyright Peter Hanami 2009
Picture: Local green grocer Japan

Today Tuesday 1st April 2014, consumer sales tax rises for Japanese Customers from 5 per cent to 8 per cent in Japan

"...April 1, the day of the consumption tax rise...Even at 8 per cent, rising from 5 per cent, Japan's tax rate will be less than half the OECD average"

Source: Consumers caught up in Japan's retail numbers game
By Ben McLannahan
Financial Times
Tues 25/3/2014, page 27