According to the Wall Street Journal, UNIQLO’s parent company and J. Crew are in the very beginnings of talks that could lead to J. Crew selling itself to the Japanese based clothing giant for as much as $5 billion.
Fast Retailing is the name of UNIQLO’s parent company, and the chairman, president, and CEO is Japan’s wealthiest man. He’s also said that he wants Fast Retailing to become the world’s largest clothing retailer, and to do so, goals have been set to quintuple revenue by 2020. That’d push them past Inditex (Zara), H&M, and GAP inc.
Fast Retailing gets a lot of its revenue from Japan (77% as of last year), and if they want to be #1 world wide, that means they have to get huge in other markets. From the side of Fast Retailing/Uniqlo, acquiring J. Crew to expand their reach probably makes sense. But on the consumer side, it could be a bit of a mash-up.
UPDATE: As fey mentions in the comments below, Fast Retailing isn’t a 100% inexpensive clothing company. They own Theory, J. Brand, and have their fingers in a few other higher-quality clothing pies. But UNIQLO appears to the be sales engine.
In the U.S., UNIQLO seems to be seen as a place to go for plain, but usually well executed basics at very low prices. J. Crew has grown into a pushing-the-price-envelope, style risk taking (especially on the women’s side) brand. They’re different enough that as a consumer, it’s awfully easy to wonder if one would start to influence the other after joining forces. And not necessarily in a good way.
Imagine, J. Crew’s blazers get cheaper, but the fabric and construction quality drops… all while the jacket tails (brace yourselves) somehow manage to get even shorter than what the Ludlow offers now.
Yet maybe this potential new union could make a basic button up shirt that retails for less than $65.
Or they could just leave it all the hell alone.