Fast Retailing is closing its GU South Korea stores, but will continue selling online in the market.
The Japanese brand, a budget sister brand to Uniqlo, has experienced a sharp fall in trade following the coronavirus pandemic and an earlier general boycott of Japanese products across South Korea.
The label has traded in Korea for less than two years.
GU had earlier been expected to expand operations in Korea creating a cheaper price point to Uniqlo before the boycott movement started last summer. The firm was also hit by bad publicity and a highly publicised email scandal.
Fast Retailing is also evaluating its plans for Uniqlo in the wake of the pandemic and the protests. Uniqlo Korea sales plunged in the latter part of last year due to an ongoing boycott of Japanese brands and retail networks relating to a lack of apology over the occupation of Korea during the Second World War.
Following the shuttering of the GU South Korea stores, a decision is likely to be announced in August about Uniqlo’s future in the market.
The fact that Uniqlo products are being sold online, while offline stores are empty, shows there is a large population of so-called ‘shy Uniqlo’, ‘shy Japan’ consumers in the country.