UNIQLO first crossed my radar on a visit to Japan in 2010.

The name was new to me, but the Japanese government guide talked enthusiastically about the fashion retailer’s offering.

This visit was quite a while after UNIQLO had opened its first shop outside Japan, in London, in 2001. UNIQLO opened its first store in Japan, in Hiroshima, in 1984.

Fast-forward 14 years from that 2010 trip, and UNIQLO is about to open its first store in Scotland.

It seems impossible these days when visiting Tokyo to miss UNIQLO, with the retailer having stores at transport hubs such as Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport as well as on shopping streets. The retailer’s flagship store is in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

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UNIQLO’s offering is an exciting one, living up to the enthusiasm of my guide back in 2010. In Japan, the stores seem inexpensive. The online offering in the UK is more mid-range in price but the innovative nature of the clothing makes it compelling nonetheless.

Of course, when any big international retailer opens its first store in a particular city or country, there tends to be a smattering of superlatives.

Marketing is obviously crucial to any big launch.

So it has not been surprising to see UNIQLO make some noise about the opening of its first Scottish store.

The following passage from the Japanese retailer was predictable enough: “With its longstanding commitment to quality, style, functionality and comfort, UNIQLO promises to bring a fresh perspective to not only Edinburgh, but Scotland’s fashion landscape, offering a spacious store spanning approximately 1,430 square metres across two floors.

“Housed in the iconic, modernist, purpose-built retail store, designed by Johnson-Marshall and Partners in 1965, the location on Edinburgh's bustling Princes Street allows for scenic views of the castle from the first-floor windows.”

Having shopped at UNIQLO, online and at a physical store in Japan, this seems like a fair enough assessment.

However, what was eye-catching about UNIQLO’s announcement of the April 25 opening date for its store in Edinburgh was the retailer’s claim that its “arrival marks the regeneration of the shopping scene in Scotland’s capital”.

It seemed like a particularly bold claim.

However, on contemplating it, the assertion does not really seem over the top at all.

Maybe the opening might be better described as a crucial part of the regeneration of Edinburgh’s shopping scene, if you wanted to split hairs.

The Scottish capital has recently seen major investment in the St James Quarter.

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However, what is interesting about the UNIQLO opening is that it is a completely new name launching a large physical store on Princes Street, which has not had its troubles to seek in recent times.

The shopping scene on Princes Street today most definitely lacks the buzz of the likes of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

There has been much hand-wringing, and for very good reason, about the challenges facing city and town centres, with the rise of online shopping. These challenges have intensified as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, during which many people who were not big online shoppers embraced this retail channel and stuck with it.

Princes Street has had to endure many difficulties in recent years.

The landmark Jenners department store on Princes Street closed forever amid the pandemic.

Debenhams on Princes Street also failed to make it through the pandemic, after this department store group fell into administration.

In late 2018, the House of Fraser department store at the west end of Princes Street shut its doors.

The scale of these losses should not be underestimated.

Planning guidance has been relaxed in recent years by The City of Edinburgh Council to enable the opening of restaurants and cafes on Princes Street.

Against a tough economic backdrop, discount retailer Primark’s five-floor store is among the big draws these days on Princes Street.

The future of retailing in city and town centres looks so much more bleak than it did just a few years before the pandemic, even though by then there had been plenty of collapses of big retail chains amid the explosion of online shopping.

So, while UNIQLO is understandably seeking to market its new store to maximum effect, its point about the part the opening can play in the regeneration of Edinburgh’s shopping scene is, on reflection, very well made.

These are truly miserable times, amid the cost of living crisis and a UK economic malaise that has been going on for so long.

And the opening of the first Scottish store of an innovative international brand such as UNIQLO is worthy of excitement.

Highlighting its scale, and commitment to physical stores, the Japanese retailer declared: “UNIQLO continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world's most important cities and locations, as part of its ongoing efforts to solidify its status as a global brand. Today the company has a total of more than 2,400 UNIQLO stores across the world, including Japan, Asia, Europe and North America.”

It has perhaps taken longer for UNIQLO to come to Scotland than might have been expected.

However, the opening of its first Scottish store is now only days away. And hopefully UNIQLO might in years to come open further stores in Scotland.

Personal experience suggests that this is a brand that has been well worth waiting for, and one that can provide a huge boost to Edinburgh’s shopping scene. It seems likely to be a draw for shoppers from outside Edinburgh as well as for those living in and around the city.

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The retail offering in other Scottish cities could do with a similar boost.

Looking at UNIQLO’s footprint, you might hope that Glasgow could appear on the retailer’s shopping list for a new store at some point.

The challenges facing Glasgow city centre appear much greater in many ways than those in Edinburgh, partly because of the Scottish capital’s greater draw for overseas tourists.

However, Glasgow has over years and decades proved attractive to cutting-edge fashion retailers. The city is taking its time to recover fully from the coronavirus pandemic but, while it faces huge challenges, it does seem to be moving in the right direction, with some major exciting developments proposed.

For now, UNIQLO is focusing on Edinburgh.

It has shown its faith in Princes Street, and that is a very good thing for the Scottish capital’s shopping scene.