Be Professional

Tadashi Yanai… a retail legend & Founder of Uniqlo

By: Lamia Hassan

Name: Tadashi Yanai

Date of birth: February 7, 1949.

Nationality: Japanese.

The company is called Fast Retailing and it is responsible for retail clothing.

From the heart of a small town in Japan, and during a record period, Tadashi Yanai, the founder, and CEO of the “Fast Retailing” clothing retail company, which owns the “Uniqlo” chain of stores, was able to be a model that entrepreneurs around the world looked up to, especially after he was considered the richest man in the world. 

As time passed, everything Tadashi Yanai touched turned to gold. As a result of his superior intelligence, and his ability to avoid making wrong decisions and avoid failure, how did his journey get started? What we discussed with you is summarized in the following lines.

Selling clothes with his parents

Tadashi Yanai was born on February 7, 1949, to parents who worked in the clothing business. They owned a simple and humble shop in their small town in southwestern Japan.

The parents were keen to teach their son a distinguished education, and indeed he studied political science and graduated from Waseda University in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, in 1971. However, their working life had the most significant impact on him. The story of their struggle to support him was his gateway to the dream of breaking into the world of entrepreneurship.

Tadashi started his first job as a men’s clothing salesman after graduating from university then sold kitchen utensils in a small shop, and after only one year, he decided to quit this job, to help his father in the knitting business.

Due to the son’s help, the son’s father’s business experienced clear prosperity. His success was recognized throughout the nation after his business grew rapidly.

Uniqlo store

In 1984, Tadashi was chosen to head a large chain of stores that included 22 stores, and his entrepreneurial dream began to grow slowly; Until he opened his unique clothing store, which he called ” Uniqlo Clothing House” in Hiroshima.

After careful observation and thoughtful analysis of the market, he decided to change the name and make it easier to trade among people.

Tadashi decided to change the name of his store to ” Uniqlo”, and his expectations were confirmed, as the store became the favorite of people, and achieved overwhelming success.

In just 10 years, he was able to open dozens of stores in the Japanese suburbs, to suburbs. As a result, his relaunched brand gained traction during the Great Recession.

The Great Recession

In the early 1990s, Japan was exposed to a deep recession, which lasted a full decade.

The commercial chain that Tadashi Yanai established made his name stand out among large organizations, as well as his ability to overcome crises.

Uniqlo reaped a lot of gains during the Great Recession in Japan, thanks to the unique pricing strategy pursued by Tadashi Yanai, as he offered products at competitive prices, and provided meals to citizens, which supported his basic idea of ​​professional marketing and strengthened his role towards society at a very harsh time.

In 1994, Tadashi launched Uniqlo, and years later, he was able to own more than 300 stores in Japan. Especially in 1998.

Failed transformation

After the advent of the millennium, Yanai made a strange decision. He shocked the world by moving into the vegetable retail business in 2002. He continued to incur large losses, until he realized his terrible mistake, and withdrew from it after two years. Nevertheless, the experience led to his success later on.

Tadashi was keen to show the reasons for his failed experience in the vegetable trade, and he talked about them in his book entitled “Success Squandered in a Day”, which was released in 2009.

Regain success with “Fast Retailing”

Tadashi expanded into clothing and fashion retail, so he founded “Fast Retailing”, which helped him regain success and become one of the world’s wealthiest people.

Tadashi became one of the most successful businessmen in Japan. He was able to prove the accuracy of his vision after Fast Retailing became the fourth-largest clothing company in the entire world, with over 2,000 stores. This was while Uniqlo’s progress was being maintained. With whom he learned the path of entrepreneurship, and tasted the dazzling taste of success.


Tadashi knew – according to the testimony of those who worked with him – how to make quick decisions, withdraw from failed businesses, avoid losses, and move forward to a new step on the path to success.

In 2003 AD, Tadashi looked forward to opening 50 Uniqlo stores in the United Kingdom during his 3-year plan, but he closed 16 stores; To reduce losses, and develop a more comprehensive restructuring plan.

Tadashi Yanai was keen to compete with the largest companies selling clothes, so he decided to adopt English as the main language in his company. So, the Asian market enters the heart of global competition and becomes a match for global brands such as Zara and H&M.

In 2012, Tadashi Yanai was included in the list of the most influential people in the world, after two years earlier he received the World’s Best Retailer Award from the National Retail Federation of the United States of America, and the Best Company President Award from the Sano Institute of Management. Thus, it became one of the most prominent entities in the field of trade in the world.

Social responsibility

Tadashi Yanai also supported the Japanese people during the Great Recession, when he donated one billion yen ($8.8 million) in March 2011 to the victims of the Sendai earthquake, believing in his role and responsibility toward citizens.

Lessons learned:

  • Withdrawal from failure: Overcoming failure may be the most defining characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. Nevertheless, he must know when to withdraw from it, move on to a new idea, or reorganize things according to his business interests.
  • Helping others: Entrepreneurs always play a major role in maintaining balance in their communities. They can help others by taking an active role and understanding social responsibility while still maintaining profits.
  • Market study: The market must be studied before launching the project, to assist it in developing a marketing plan, a competitive pricing strategy, and management as required by its work.


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