Japan's cheap chic clothing chain Uniqlo opened the doors to its new 12-storey megastore in Tokyo on Friday, making a splash in the upmarket Ginza area as part of a drive across Asia.
More than 300 shoppers queued up ahead of the official start time to be the first to set foot inside the shop -- Uniqlo's largest store in the world.
"Opening a flagship store here is the first step to expand the business from here to the whole of Asia," Uniqlo chief executive Tadashi Yanai said ahead of the opening on the district's glitzy "Chuo Dori" high street.
Uniqlo's parent company Fast Retailing, which began in 1949 as a small clothing shop for men in western Yamaguchi prefecture under Yanai's father, has grown into one of Japan's most successful corporations.
After opening megastores in several major world cities, including New York, London and Paris, Uniqlo has now shifted its focus to rapidly growing Asia, operating in Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul.
"We want to expand our stores to all the main cities in Asia," said Yanai, who is looking at 100 stores new stores across the continent in the year to August 2012.
"Unfortunately, Japan is in a state of deadlock due to the ageing population, the low birth rate and politics being in deadlock," Yanai said. "But when I look at Japan as a part of Asia, a member of the world, I feel excited about the gigantic potential."
For the Ginza flagship store, the company has hired sales staff who can assist customers in five foreign languages -- English, Chinese, Korean, French and Spanish.
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