Tadashi Yanai is a Japanese businessman who is the founder and president of Fast Retailing and its subsidiary Uniqlo. He was born in Ube, Yamaguchi, Japan, on February 7, 1949. He grew up in a small apartment above his father’s shop. After graduating from Waseda University with a degree in economics and political science, he started his business selling men’s clothing and kitchenware. He then started Uniqlo and joined his father’s tailor’s shop, which he renamed Fast Retailing. He is now married with two sons, Kazumi and Koji, and he lives in Tokyo. Although he is well-known in the business and financial worlds, there are many things that people do not know about this businessman. Here are 10 interesting facts that you did not know about Tadashi Yanai.
1. He is One of the Wealthiest Men in the World
With an estimated net worth of $28.6 billion, Tadashi Yanai is one of the richest people on Earth. According to Bloomberg, he is currently the wealthiest man in Japan and the 30th wealthiest person in the world.
2. He Supports Refugees
It was reported in the Japan Times that Uniqlo hit the headlines when an advocacy group called Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior had revealed that Fast Retailing and Uniqlo was violating labor rights, paying low wages, and not providing safe working conditions. Since then, measures have been put in place to improve these conditions and Fast Retailing has even begun to employ refugees in their apparel stores.
3. He Has an Aversion to Wearing Ties
When Yanai first started working, he had a floor manager who wanted him to dress properly for the job and wear a tie. Yanai has told ABS-CBN that this is something he hated and he preferred to go to work in jeans with no tie. He did not see how wearing a tie would help him to do his job properly. To this day, he is rarely photographed wearing a tie.
4. He Wants His Company to Become the World’s Largest Retailer
According to Forbes, Yanai wants his company to become the world’s leading fashion retailer. To do this, his company would need to surpass companies including H & M and Zara. However, he is concentrating on Asia for now, especially China and Thailand. He did open a store in London once, but he described it as a mistake and a disaster. He also set a goal in 2012 to open 1,000 stores in the United States. Yanai shelved these plans and had only 47 American stores by 2017. Despite concentrating on Asia Yanai has insisted that English is the language of his businesses.
5. His Business Once Lost $14 Billion in One Day
Town and Country says that although Yanai is a hugely successful man, his business has experienced losses in the past. In January 2017, the stock of Fast Retailing dropped by 6.7 percent leading to a $14 billion slump in the stock market. This was possibly because the winter climate in Japan had been much warmer than expected and led to poor winter sales.
6. He Has Won Awards
In 2010, he became the fourth Japanese person to ever win the Retailer of the Year Award. This honor was bestowed on him by the National Retailer Federation in the United States. In 2008 and 2009, Tadashi Yanai was selected as the best company president by the Sanno Institute of Management based on the results of a survey of Japanese corporate executives. Yanai was also included in the Bloomberg Markets Magazine 50 Most Influential list.
7. He is an Art Enthusiast
One of Tanashi Yanai’s passions is art. Bloomberg says that one of his favorite artists is Andy Warhol, the American artist who is famous for pop art, contemporary art, and abstract expressionism. Another of his favorite artists is Keith Haring, who is also an American artist and he is famous for pop art and graffiti style art.
8. Yanai is Inspired by a Nobel Prize Winner
When asked about his inspiration for success, Yanai named Tasuko Honjo, who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology. He believes that Honjo has offered many words of wisdom, and Yanai has even used examples of the Nobel Prize winner’s quotes in his speeches.
9. He Once Stepped Down as President
It is unknown when Tadashi Yanai will retire from Uniqlo but has stepped down as the president once already. He told Japan Times about his decision to step down back in 2002 allowing Genichi Tamatsuka to take over the role of president. Yanai decided to return after just three years because he didn’t like the way that Tamatsuka was leading the company. He was aiming for stability rather than growth, and this is not what Yanai wanted.
10. He Donated Money After an Earthquake
Yanai donated one billion yen to the victims of a Japanese earthquake, says Town and Country. The earthquake hit in 2011 and it was the largest earthquake ever recorded. It was a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that caused fires and tsunamis, predominantly in the northeastern part of Japan. The total cost of the earthquake amounted to billions of dollars in damages. This is not the only philanthropic act of Yanai’s as he is also trying to turn Fast Retailing into a philanthropic company. He wants to focus his company’s philanthropic work on benefiting underprivileged children.
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Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn