How Tadashi Yanai Became Rich with Uniqlo

On February 7 in the year 1949, one of the richest persons in Japan was born in Yamaguchi prefecture. His name is Tadashi Yanai, the founder of Fast Retailing, the owner of clothing retailer Uniqlo. According to forbes.com, his net worth is $28.8 billion as of August, 2020.

Tadashi Yanai
Tadashi Yanai (Credit: scmp.com)

Tadashi Yanai was the son of a tailor with a retail shop which expanded into several stores. In 1971, he graduated from Waseda University with a degree in economics and politics. After graduation, he opened a kitchenware shop but did not succeed. He set up his own clothing store but it also failed so he decided to join his father in the family business.

In 1984, Tadashi Yanai opened Unique Clothing Warehouse in Hiroshima. In 1991, he incorporated Fast Retailing Company and shortened its store brand name to Uniqlo, short for unique clothing. He promoted the company as a source of cloth that is simple yet clever, functional but affordable, innovative and unique.

In 1994, the company was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. With additional capital from its IPO, the company set out for rapid expansion. In two years, the number of branches totaled 200 and it doubled to 400 by the year 2000. To keep cost down, he contracted Chinese apparel producers to make clothing that the company had designed. One of its bestselling items was a fleece jacket which was sold for $15.

In 2006, the company opened its first global flagship store in New York City. It also set up branches in Hong Kong, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe. It has since acquired other fashion houses including New York’s Theory.

Tadashi Yanai is married and has two sons.

References
https://www.bloomberg.com/billionaires/profiles/tadashi-yanai/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2017/04/05/too-big-data-for-his-drawers/#1161751a2b8a
https://www.forbes.com/profile/tadashi-yanai/

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