Uniqlo Taps Indonesia as Billionaire Yanai Seeks Overseas Growth

Fast Retailing Co., the apparel retailer headed by Japan’s richest man, will open its first Uniqlo branded store in Indonesia by June and plans to add 10 outlets in three years to tap an expanding middle class.

The new Jakarta store will be among Uniqlo’s five largest in Asia after South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, Naoki Otoma, Fast Retailing’s group executive vice president, said in an interview in Jakarta today.

The casual clothing maker, led by billionaire President Tadashi Yanai, has expanded outside Japan to reduce reliance on its home market. It joins other consumer brands including Apple Inc. in seeking growth in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which has expanded more than 6 percent for nine quarters.

“We see there are a lot of new young families in this country,” Otoma said. “That’s a potential middle-class population explosion.”

Gross domestic product in the world’s fourth most-populous nation increased 6.11 percent in the three months through December from a year earlier, supported by strong domestic consumption and investment.

With Indonesia’s economy steadily expanding “we’re a bit late to enter this market,” Otoma said.

Investment climbed 18.7 percent to 83.3 trillion rupiah ($8.6 billion) in the last quarter from a year earlier, M. Chatib Basri, chairman of nation’s Investment Coordinating Board, said last month. Apple Inc. has been granted approval to open its first store in the country, Basri said.