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Fast Retailing Co. said Tuesday it will open a Uniqlo casual clothing store in Seoul next fall.

Chief Executive Tadashi Yanai told a news conference the firm plans to open 20 to 30 outlets in South Korea in three years, with annual revenue targeted at 10 billion yen.

The company will set up a joint venture in December with Lotte Shopping Co., a major retail group in South Korea, to operate the chain.

Yanai said the company had been exploring ways to gain a foothold in South Korea. Most of the outlets are likely to be concentrated in Seoul. There are already Uniqlo stores in Britain and China.

“I watched South Korean movies, and I think our clothes are likely to be smoothly accepted there,” he said.

Store layouts and merchandising will be basically the same as in Japan, but they may reflect local tastes, he said.

The company currently has some 630 Uniqlo outlets in Japan. It started operations in the United Kingdom in September 2001 and has five stores there. It launched the Chinese chain in September 2002 and has six outlets today.

Yanai has been saying he aims to make the firm a global apparel concern in the same league as major U.S. casual clothing operator Gap Inc. The foray into the South Korean market is part of this effort, Yanai said.

“We want to enter other important markets as soon as possible,” he said.

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