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Uniqlo US quietly closing stores

Tokyo-based fast-fashion brand Uniqlo US, a 1700-store global chain with 43 US outlets, has been retrenching amid slowing sales.

It has quietly closed five stores in the US since January, all in suburban shopping malls.

“The US is very important to the company,” says spokesman Aldo Liguori. “We are focussing on large cities where we can open large stores.”

As well as urban markets, Uniqlo is beefing up its customer service, says Liguori.

Chief executive Tadashi Yanai last year said brand penetration in big cities such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago was good, “but not in the suburbs”.

Owned by Fast Retailing, which has seven clothing brands, Uniqlo said last year that it would be scaling back its US expansion after opening 17 stores in 2014. It opened four stores last year, and has announced that three stores will be opened this year.

Meanwhile, the brand may face competition from Irish-based discounter Primark, which is expanding in the US.

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