Japanese fashion group Fast Retailing Co Ltd to increase automation at its warehouses and facilities

On Wednesday, Japan’s fashion group Fast Retailing Co Ltd stated, it has partnered with two robotics startups to help improve efficiency in its warehousing and distribution strategy.

Fast Retailing, the owner of clothing chain Uniqlo and also Asia’s biggest fashion retailer by sales said, it plans on investing $916.59 million (100 billion yen) to increase automation at its facilities.

“Japanese robotics controller maker Mujin Electronics Co Ltd and French robotics startup Exotec Solutions SAS will help introduce more automation at global warehouses, including in picking and shipping processes,” said Fast Retailing in a statement.

Known for its affordable line of casual clothing such as lightweight down jackets, Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo has grown through decades of weak consumption in Japan.

The company has a strong market presence in China, with the brand logging more than $142.98 million (over 1 billion yuan) in sales during China’s 24-hour Singles’ Day shopping festival.

However, it is also struggling with inefficiencies, and occasionally has blamed unseasonable weather for poor sales and excess inventory, issues it is aiming to address with shorter lead times and improved logistics.

“Not making, shipping or selling anything unnecessary – this is a goal for retailers. Unfortunately, it’s something that’s not been achieved,” said Executive Vice President Takuya Jimbo.

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