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Uniqlo Helps Lift Fast Retailing Profits

Uniqlo's net profit for the year ended Aug. 31 rose 14 percent to 49.8 billion yen, or $517.4 million at average exchange rates.

TOKYO — Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. posted another year of double-digit growth as its Uniqlo brand continued to win over price-sensitive consumers.

This story first appeared in the October 9, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Net profit for the year ended Aug. 31 rose 14 percent to 49.8 billion yen, or $517.4 million at average exchange rates for the period, the company said Thursday. That figure is lower than the 52 billion yen, or $540.3 million, target it set in July.

Sales jumped 17 percent to 685.04 billion yen, or $7.12 billion, slightly higher than the July forecast for sales of 682 billion yen, or $7.1 billion.

Operating profit for the year rose 24 percent to 108.64 billion yen, or $1.13 billion, as the company predicted this summer.

The company also said it is expecting to post double-digit growth for the current fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2010.

Fast Retailing said net profit should grow 25 percent to 62 billion yen, or $699 million at current exchange rates. Operating profit is seen rising 11 percent to 120 billion yen, or $1.35 billion, while sales are forecast to increase 17 percent to 798 billion yen, or $9 billion.

Last month, the Japanese company, which owns the Uniqlo chain, outlined ambitious targets. The company said it is aiming to grow its annual sales more than seven times to 5 trillion yen, or $56.4 billion, by 2020. Much of that growth will come through Uniqlo’s international expansion in Asia, the U.S. and Europe.

Last week, Uniqlo launched its much anticipated +J collection designed by Jil Sander, attracting hordes of shoppers in Paris, Tokyo, London and New York.

Fast Retailing chairman and chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai said at a press conference on Thursday that Uniqlo plans to go “from number one in Asia to number one in the world” by opening an average of 100 stores a year across China and Hong Kong, plus an additional 100 stores in South Korea by the year 2012. Other expansion is slated for Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Vietnam and Australia.

Uniqlo opened a global flagship in Paris’ Opera district on Oct. 1 and is still absorbing operating costs linked to the opening. “Paris is the center of global fashion, and the Paris store will showcase Uniqlo to the world,” Yanai said. The next steps in Uniqlo’s global expansion include its first store in Moscow and a global flagship in Shanghai, both set to open in the spring.

Domestic and international growth was driven by the strength of Uniqlo’s women’s line, as well as core products such as the Heattech and Bra Top series and washable knits.