Uniqlo reprimanded for planning price hikes following Thai king's death

Updated : 21.11.2016 / Category Capsule

Uniqlo Co. Ltd. has been reprimanded by the Thai Ministry of Commerce over a plan to raise prices for black clothing following the death of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was revered as the "father of the nation."

Uniqlo was apparently trying to take of advantage of a surge in demand for black clothing following the king's death, but the Thai ministry deemed the move "inappropriate" and issued a stern warning regarding the opportunistic plan.

Small, locally based apparel vendors are critical of the Japanese casual clothing maker. "Uniqlo is a problematic company; its employees are constantly made to work long hours," one such vendor said. "It's now trying to use the king's death for commercial gain, not to mention [that its presence] is stripping us of jobs."

Uniqlo has 32 outlets in the Southeast Asian nation. According to multiple sources, Uniqlo surmised there would be a jump in demand for black attire after rumors began circulating around October 10 about the imminent death of the ailing king. Some stores increased their stocks of black clothing and were set to hike associated prices.

For example, the company planned to sell a black polo shirt that usually retails for 490-690 baht (about ¥1,500-¥2,000), for 1,000 baht—an increase of more than 30 percent.

The plan came to light after a whistle-blower contacted the Thai ministry, which immediately launched an investigation. The ministry, however, found the plan was largely devised by store managers and failed to establish concrete evidence that the company's top management was involved in the scheme. It thus issued a verbal warning to the company against the action it judged as "extremely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Royal Family."

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This is a translation of an article from the November 2016 issue of Sentaku. The original article can be found here.