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  • Title
    CEO, Uniqlo Japan; Group SVP
  • Company
    Fast Retailing
  • Country
    Japan

Company veteran Maki Akaida is highly tipped to replace 71-year old Fast Retailing president Tadashi Yanai when—if—he retires. Akaida was promoted to head of Uniqlo Japan—the brand’s biggest market—in June 2019 and has steered the company through an unprecedented pandemic. The outbreak forced Fast Retailing to close stores worldwide in early 2020, resulting in a 40% sales drop in the quarter from March to May. But Uniqlo’s LifeWear garments—cozy sweatpants, soft T-shirts—have become a sort of quarantine uniform, especially in Japan. Demand for the line’s AIRism masks, in particular, have drawn customers back to physical stores. While many retailers are reconsidering brick-and-mortar stores, Uniqlo Japan is expanding its footprint. It opened a new omnichannel store in Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku district in June, where tablets display outfit suggestions that customers can then purchase in store. Same-store sales grew 26% year on year across the country that month.

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