Uniqlo's Billionaire Founder Would Like To Be Succeeded By A Woman
Tadashi Yanai is the 70-year-old founder of Fast Retailing, the Japanese retail holding company of which Uniqlo is the primary subsidiary. As his retirement is impending, in a recent interview with Bloomberg, when asked about his successor, the billionaire expressed that he would prefer to be succeeded by a woman.
“The job is more suitable for a woman... They are persevering, detailed oriented and have an aesthetic sense.”
Yanai built the company out of his father’s humble tailor shop over 50 years ago. It was initially called Ogouri Shouji in 1963, later modernised to Fast Retailing in 1991. In 1984, Ogouri Shouji opened a casual-wear store called Unique Clothing Warehouse in Hiroshima City. This was the predecessor of Uniqlo. Today, aside from Uniqlo, Fast Retailing owns apparel brands Comptoir des Cotonniers, Helmut Lang, GU, J Brand, Princesse Tam-Tam and Theory.
[Women] are persevering, detailed oriented and have an aesthetic sense.
Many suspect that Maki Akaida, Uniqlo’s first female CEO appointed earlier this year, is the front runner for Yanai’s successor. While Japan is notorious for gender inequality in top management positions, Fast Retailer is setting a new standard with over 30 per cent of its management female. Yanai has also said that he wants to increase the ratio of female executives in his company to more than 50 per cent. Including Akaida, the company currently has six female senior executives.
Not just an advocate of more women in high places, Yanai also believes in the youth. As fast fashion brands and global franchises are largely struggling in today’s consumer climate, he offers one more insight about what it takes for a company like Uniqlo or Fast Retailing to not only survive but thrive:
“We’re in the business of selling clothes—it’s not so good that we’re old.”