Millennials shop at the Uniqlo store in Shanghai, China. Picture: Getty Images
Millennials shop at the Uniqlo store in Shanghai, China. Picture: Getty Images

Tokyo — Asia’s largest retailer is hoping that a $280,000 annual salary and a managerial title in three years will lure top talent as it grapples with one of the tightest labor markets in Japanese history. 

The salary being considered by Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing would be more than three times the average pay at the company, and nearly 10 times the national average in Japan for those with similar employment tenures.

The higher pay is meant to draw in talented people to Fast Retailing and is being considered by CEO Tadashi Yanai, the company said. He is mulling putting the higher salaries into effect next spring. The effort follows a move earlier in 2019 to raise compensation for some new hires.

The company is considering promising young talent a move into management within three years with annual salaries of ¥20m to ¥30m ($279,329) for those sent to the US or Europe, and more than ¥10m for those in Japan, according to a Nikkei report from an interview with Yanai.

As Japan struggles with an aging population and a shortfall of young workers, businesses are dismantling previously sacred cultural norms, like the correlation of pay with experience, and the notion of lifetime employment. Tech companies in Japan have made similar moves to draw in young talent, promising million dollar salaries and raising starting pay by 20% for top candidates.

The average Fast Retailing annual pay was about ¥8.77m as of August 2018, according to company filings. The lowest salary at the company was about ¥4m a year, the Nikkei report said, citing previous data from the company’s recruiting website. Nationally, the average annual salary for workers with up to four years of work experience was ¥3.1m in 2017, according to figures compiled by the National Tax Agency.

Fast Retailing assigns most fresh recruits to work in Uniqlo stores, but under the new system, more will be sent to specialised departments that suit their skills in areas including information technology and design, according to the Nikkei report. The company will then choose candidates for managerial positions in Japan and overseas after three to five years.