Japan-based casual clothing retailer Uniqlo is aiming to grow its online sales in China after signing a strategic partnership deal with e-commerce provider Taobao.

The Fast Retailing-owned company has so far had a limited online presence in China, despite opening 21 bricks and mortar stores in the country by the middle of 2008.

According to the deal, Uniqlo will establish a flagship virtual store on Taobao's online marketplace, taobao.com, which claimed nearly 100m registered users at the end of 2008.

Meanwhile, the retailer will establish a separate retail website, with Taobao's help, using the same product database.

Jonathan Lu, president of Taobao, said of the deal: "Uniqlo's decision to join the line-up of global companies already operating an online store on Taobao underscores the continued and growing strength of online retailing in China, as nearly 100m people have elected to purchase goods, such as apparel, via the Internet rather than through traditional brick-and-mortar retail."