Women’s Wear Daily
04.20.2014
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Tadashi Yanai's Succession Quandry

The Fast Retailing exec said he still doesn't have a suitable candidate to take over the business.

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Uniqlo Tadashi Yanai

Tadashi Yanai

Photo By Dominique Maitre

TOKYO — Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. chairman, president and chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai has just dropped a few hints on his succession plan — or lack thereof.

The 63-year-old executive of the company, which also owns Theory and recently purchased J Brand, said that he may have to reconsider his previously announced plan to retire around the time he turns 65 in February 2014.

“I think I may not be able to retire,” Yanai said Thursday at a meet and greet with journalists here. “That may sound like a very good thing, but actually for me it’s terrible. The biggest part of my job now is to quickly develop successors, and around the world I am working to develop new business leaders in the company. But unfortunately at the moment there is no one who meets my expectations [to be the next ceo], so together they all have to learn more.”

Larry Meyer, chief operating officer for Uniqlo USA, and Berndt Hauptkorn, ceo for Uniqlo Europe, also attended the event. Both executives are relatively new to the company, with Hauptkorn joining in the summer and Meyer starting his job just a couple of weeks ago.

“The U.S. side of Uniqlo has exponential growth so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing,” Meyer said.

Uniqlo USA ceo Nobuo Domae said the brand is looking to build its retail presence in the States in the near future by growing and expanding on the East and West coasts rather than pushing into the Midwest or other regions of the country.

“As a group, our focus is on Asia and China, but the U.S. is a huge potential for us, so we need to focus on opening more stores over there, especially on the West Coast and East Coast,” Domae said. “Rather than going into other countries or into Chicago, we’re very much focused on the West Coast and East Coast.”

Uniqlo has five stores in the U.S. in San Francisco, New York and New Jersey. As for California, Domae said a second location in San Francisco is likely to happen sooner than a move into Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles is a huge city and it’s a huge potential, but we have to be very careful,” Domae said. “We want to have a big impact when we launch, but we haven’t even started considering [that] yet. It’s like a new country.”

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