10717‐1 Sayama, Yamaguchi City,
Japan (Head Office)
CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
- ADC AWARD
- #84 World’s Most Valuable Brands 2020
Report created by Sagarika Deshmukh
UNIQLO is a brand of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., a leading Japanese retail holding company with global headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded by Hitoshi Yanai in March 1949, and is headquartered in Yamaguchi, Japan.
UNIQLO continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world’s most important cities and locations, as part of its ongoing efforts to solidify its status as a global brand. Today, the company has close to 2,200 stores in 24 markets including Japan.
More specifically, FAST RETAILING CO., LTD. engages in the control and management of its group companies that centers in casual wear. It operates through the following segments: UNIQLO Japan, UNIQLO International, GU, Global Brands, and Others.
- The UNIQLO Japan segment manages the UNIQLO clothing business within Japan.
- The UNIQLO International segment handles UNIQLO clothing business outside of Japan.
- The GU segment deals with GU business in Japan and overseas.
- The Global Brands segment handles Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse tam.tam and J Brand clothing operations.
- The others segment includes the real estate businesses.
With a corporate statement committed to changing clothes, changing conventional wisdom and changing the world, Fast Retailing is dedicated to creating great clothing with new and unique value to enrich the lives of people everywhere.
Company Sustainability Activity
Uniqlo’s sustainable activities revolve around three areas of business: People, Planet and Community.
People: Uniqlo respects the health, safety, and human rights of people in the locations where Uniqlo operates. By promoting diversity, Uniqlo aims to create an environment where everyone can thrive.
Planet: They strive to realize a sustainable society by reducing the environmental impact through business activities. Through technology and innovation, the company creates products that deliver new value.
Community: Uniqlo seeks to strengthen communities by engaging global and local stakeholders and partnering with customers looking to create a better world.
As a subsidiary to Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s stance on incorporating sustainability into their business model is that of their parent company.
- In fiscal 2019, the percentage of women in management positions reached 38.4%.
- In 2019, people with disabilities accounted for 5.02% of Group employees in Japan, far exceeding the statutory requirement (2.2%).
- UNIQLO stores employed 105 refugees in seven countries as of April 2019.
- In fiscal 2019, they reached a 31.6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (compared with fiscal 2013, per unit of floor area).
- 36.57 million items donated to 72 countries and regions as of August 31, 2019.
- Target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at UNIQLO stores in Japan by end of fiscal 2020
- Reducing 15% in water use and 10% in energy from 2016 levels
- Zero emissions of hazardous chemicals by 2020
- UNIQLO began sales of the DRY-EX polo shirt which uses recycled polyester made from post-consumer PET bottles for the 2020 spring and summer seasons.
- Fast Retail is phasing out single use plastic in product packaging and replacing it with alternative materials.
- UNIQLO stores in Japan began shifting to LED lighting and in 2019 reached a 31.6% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fast Retail joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which educated cotton farmers on the proper use of water and agricultural chemicals.
- Fast Retail participates in cross-industry initiatives to solve the problem of marine plastic pollution, including The Microfibre Consortium and the Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance.
- The company has conducted the UNIQLO Responsible Mill Program at core fabric mills to promote reductions in energy and water use.
- Through participation in industry initiatives such as the ZDHC Group, Fast Retail is working to eliminate emissions of hazardous chemicals from products and production processes.
- UNIQLO Kawagoe Store has acquired Gold Level certification in the Building Operations & Maintenance category of LEED, an international environmental performance evaluation system for buildings and property use.
- In June 2019, Fast Retail announced a global partnership with UN Women with the aim of empowering female employees at Fast Retailing and across their supply chain.
- In September 2019, Fast Retailing started a partnership with the International Labour Organization to improve social security and worker environment in Asia.
- LEED Gold Certification
UN Sustainable Development Goals
UN SDGs Compliance
- They update the human resource programs, provide training, and raise internal awareness to support employees in balancing child rearing with career development. In fiscal 2019, the percentage of women in management positions reached 38.4%.
- Fast Retailing strives to create a comfortable working environment for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, through internal training, a new “partnership registration system” that extends benefits to same-sex partners, and employees’ voluntary networking activities.
- UNIQLO has undertaken a number of sustainability initiatives – selling jeans made with a technology that cuts water use dramatically during processing, and reducing the use of shopping bags and product packaging made of single-use plastic, for example. UNIQLO also began sales of the DRY-EX polo shirt, which uses recycled polyester made from post-consumer PET bottles, for the 2020 spring and summer seasons.
- Uniqlo has stepped up the response to climate change by committing to setting the Science-Based Targets (SBTs) – greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that are in line with the Paris Agreement. Additionally, through participation in industry initiatives such as the ZDHC Group, they are working to eliminate emissions of hazardous chemicals from products and production processes.
- In September 2019, Fast Retailing started a partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to improve social security and worker environments in Asia. They will support ILO research on labor markets and social security systems in seven Asian countries, and a project to promote employment insurance and worker-support mechanisms during periods of unemployment in Indonesia.
In Fast Retailing’s 2019 sustainability reports, the company stated less than a handful of vague targets for 2020. The targets lacked an objective measure to determine whether the company was meeting its targets or not.
In the 2020 sustainability report, the company failed to disclose if they were meeting their target goals, and how much progress has been made. This lack of disclosure demonstrates the company’s lack of care towards sustainability.
Fast Retailing has attempted to demonstrate a number of SDG’s however their descriptions of what they hope to accomplish with regards to climate change and inequalities is extremely vague. For these reasons, Uniqlo has been rated a C.
Analyst Outlook: Negative
Uniqlo has very limited and vague goals and their efforts in sustainability are also limited. The company could put more effort into reducing GHG and using renewable energy.
Although Uniqlo’s goals are very limited, there’s still some work that has been put into becoming more sustainable.
- There’s no head of sustainability appointed by Fast Retailing. This demonstrates their lack of commitment.
- Uniqlo has been under fire in the past: In 2016, when Uniqlo was cited for abusive practices as excessive overtime, low pay, dangerous working conditions and oppressive management. The brand’s reputation as an ethical producer was seriously damaged. Uniqlo has not disclosed in their sustainability reports on how the company has progressed in solving these issues within the supply chain.