Uniqlo opens the doors to its new store in Lake Grove Friday, marking the Japanese retailer's entry into the Long Island market and its rapid expansion into the U.S. suburbs.
Uniqlo, the chain owned by Fast Retailing Co., will debut a single-story, 10,000-square-foot shop in the Smith Haven Mall. Larry Meyer, chief operating officer of Uniqlo USA, described the Lake Grove shopping center as typical of the "quality malls" selected for Uniqlo locations.
He said the company is considering a second LI store, at the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City. Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group owns both malls.
"It's not surprising we open in quality malls and quality locations as a function of the fact that's where people go to buy their apparel," Meyer said. "We'd like to be in Roosevelt Field. Our modus operandi is we want to go where the people are."
The Smith Haven store is one of 10 U.S. locations Uniqlo has opened in October and November. The rapid expansion is aimed at raising U.S. revenues to roughly $10 billion by 2020, the company has said.
"We opened 13 stores this year," Meyer said. "We will accelerate that next year." But, he added, "we won't compromise on location."
Although Uniqlo is known in the New York region by its Manhattan stores in the Soho neighborhood and on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, the chain's roots are in the suburbs of Japan, Meyer said.
Uniqlo features affordable clothing for men, women and children and is known for developing lightweight but functional fabrics such as its Ultra Light Down jackets and its Heattech clothing, made of thin material the chain says adjusts to the body heat of the person wearing it.
Retail analysts often describe Uniqlo as a "fast-fashion" retailer like H&M or Forever 21, chains that quickly turn out runway fashions at low prices. But Meyer insists Uniqlo's approach emphasizes the quality and functionality of its clothing as well as style and color, and is "not about chasing the latest item that's coming down the runway."
Uniqlo's selection targets Smith Haven's core of family shoppers, said Ashley Jacobsen, the mall's director of marketing and business development. "It speaks to our consumer."