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Japanese retailer brand Uniqlo

Japanese giant apparel retailer Uniqlo – which is the brand of parent company Fast Retailing – came up short versus expectations in its third quarter numbers having already slashed full year forecasts.

It’s actually been closing more stores than it has been opening in the first half of the year but, fortunately for the company, China growth has bailed the company out over the last year or so although local competition is getting fiercer by the day.

Historically, Fast Retailing does well when it happens on a hit product because its tactic is generally to make loads of it in different colours and sell it everywhere.

This is great when things go well, but it is a real nightmare when it doesn’t because it responds more slowly to changes than competitors such as Zara-owner Inditex.

This then means that it is then left will lots of inventory that it has to shift at discounted prices.

Fast retailing’s valuation is still at a premium versus its peers despite the slowdown and it looks to me like its nimbler competitors will be able to weather the slowdown better that it will.

Amazon as the fastest growing streamer

The second thing I wanted to talk about today was Amazon. According to the latest figures, Amazon is adding music subscribers at a faster rate than the likes of Spotify, Apple and Google as it gets its sticky fingers into yet another pie!

Amazon Music Unlimited has grown by around 70% over the last year while Spotify only grew by 25%.

Amazon Music was late to the streaming party as it launched only in 2016 – two years later even than Apple – but it has been gaining ground recently due to the increased uptake of wireless speakers and Alexa.

Amazon seems to do better with the over-55s, but I have to say that although the growth figures in percentages sound impressive the actual numbers are probably much less so.

Anecdotally, friends who have had Amazon music invariably switch to Apple Music or Spotify over time and I myself switched from Apple to Spotify a few months back because the choice on Spotify was better.

Still, streaming continues to grow, but as I’ve said before I think that we’ll reach peak streaming at some point – not only of music, but of EVERYTHING – and subscribers will really start to cull their subscriptions. At that point I think only the ones with the broadest offerings will survive – but we’re not there yet.

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Peter Watson

Peter Watson founded Seiha Consulting, a career transition consultancy, after working in HR and four recruitment agencies. He was also a stockbroker for 13 years in London and Tokyo, advising some of the world’s biggest financial institutions on European and Japanese stock market investment. He started writing the Daily (previously known as “Watson’s WIFI”) to help candidates prepare for interviews – but soon found that many others wanted to read it as well!

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