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Uniqlo debuts innovative — and energy-saving — ‘roadside’ store prototype

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Uniqlo has unveiled a new prototype that combines an array of customer lifestyle services with innovative elements to minimize energy use.

Located at Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture (Japan), the 27,000-sq.-ft. store boasts design and technical elements that are a first-of-their kind for the apparel retailer. Going forward, the outpost will serve as the model for Uniqlo’s freestanding big-box stores (referred to as “roadside” stores in Japan) around the world.

In line with the company's goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in its stores and office operations by 90% by 2030 (compared to 2019 levels), the location is expected to use around 40% less electricity compared to conventional Uniqlo roadside locations. Along with saving energy, the new store is designed to encourage customers to say longer and return more frequently.

A video showcasing the store is available here.

“With the new Maebashi Minami IC Store, we have created a new type of Uniqlo, where customers can both shop for our clothing, as well as gather and connect with each other,” said group executive officer Masahiro Endo. “Reducing our energy consumption was also at the front of mind when developing the store, and the various technical and design features utilized represent meaningful steps towards meeting our 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. Going forward, we look forward to using this store as a prototype for our new roadside stores globally."

The new Uniqlo is hard to miss, with giant brand logos on either end of the building.  The building's exterior walls are insulated with recycled materials, including 30% shredded Uniqlo clothing donated by customers. The insulation reduces energy consumption that would otherwise be used for air-conditioning.

Energy Efficient

Numerous other features have been used to help reduce energy consumption, including the following.

• Skylights have been installed in the ceiling at the center of the store. Along with illuminating the interior, the use of natural lighting in combination with artificial lighting that is controlled automatically with brightness sensors reduces a portion of the energy used for lighting.

• Considering the angle of the sun during sunset in summer and winter, the building's eaves reduce the amount of energy used for interior lighting and air conditioning.

• An air curtain installed near the building's automatic door helps to control the balance between indoor air pressure and the air outside by effectively curbing the inflow of outside air and the outflow of indoor air when the door is open.

• Brightness sensors installed on the ceiling measure the indoor brightness level to control in-store lighting.

• Lights are automatically turned on and off in areas such as the stockroom and back rooms, with the lights switched off when these areas are vacant.

• Solar panels installed on the roof of the building are expected to provide approximately one-third of the annual energy consumption of the store.

• Sensors measure the CO2 density (number of people) and in-store temperature, turning fans on as necessary.

Additionally, the total heat exchanger removes thermal energy (temperature and humidity) from the exhaust air, and transfers fresh air from outside into the store. This allows for optimization of ventilation volume.

Lifestyle Services

The new Uniqlo houses the company’s Re.Uniqlo Studio, which is dedicated to the reuse, recycling, repair and remaking  of clothes.

The store’s other customer lifestyle services are listed below.

• Seasonal blooms from Uniqlo Flower, which currently has 15 locations in Japan, are available in an in-store area called “Flower Box,” located near the front entrance.

• Customers can relax, listen to music and buy coffee and local delicacies in the “Uniqlo Coffee Box,” also located near the main entrance. This is the third location for the Coffee Box.

• The “Kids Box” area has a slide and kid-sized bench cushions — shaped in letters that spell out Uniqlo— where children can play in between shopping. The area also features displays that present the company’s environmental activities in a kid-friendly way.

• Shoppers are encouraged to take a break — or even have a picnic — on the open green space (“Uniqlo Garden”) that surrounds the store. It has uniquely designed benches, desks and umbrellas.

Uniqlo is a brand of Fast Retailing Co., a Japanese retail holding company with global headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. It is the largest of eight brands in the Fast Retailing Group, which operates more than 2,400 stores across the world, including Japan, Asia, Europe and North America.

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