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TOKYO — Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. said Thursday it posted higher earnings and sales in the first quarter as it appointed four executives to newly created roles at its Uniqlo division, bringing in talent with experience at companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Juicy Couture and Express Inc.
The Japanese retail giant said its net profits for the three months ended Nov. 30 rose 8.8 percent to 41.85 billion yen, or $422.69 million at average exchange rates for the period. First-quarter operating profits increased 13.1 percent to 64.03 billion yen, or $646.70 million. Sales jumped 22.3 percent to 389.05 billion yen, or $3.92 billion.
The company slightly lowered its full-year sales forecast but kept its previous targets for net and operating profit.
Fast Retailing expects net profit for the 12 months ending Aug. 31 to grow 1.8 percent on the year to 92 billion yen, or $877.44 million at current exchange. It is forecasting 17.4 percent growth in operating profit, to 156 billion yen, or $1.49 billion. The retailer is now predicting sales for the current fiscal year will increase by 15.7 percent to 1.32 trillion yen, or $12.59 billion. This is down from a previous forecast of 16.4 percent growth to 1.33 trillion yen, or $12.68 billion.
Fast Retailing said it has named LeAnn Nealz as chief creative officer of Uniqlo Global Design. Nealz worked as president and chief creative officer of Juicy Couture before stepping down from that role in March. She has amassed design experience at a variety of companies such as American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Theory, Banana Republic and Calvin Klein. Nealz will be based in New York and divide her time between New York and Tokyo.
Naoki Takizawa, Uniqlo’s design director since 2011, will retain his current role and continue to work for the company, a Fast Retailing spokesman clarified. The spokesman said Nealz will focus on product development and design.
Fast Retailing also said it has hired John Fleming as chief executive officer of Uniqlo’s e-commerce unit. Previously he spent almost 10 years at Wal-Mart, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer before departing that role in 2010. Fleming, a former Target Corp. executive, will be based in San Francisco.
The Japanese retailer added that it has tapped Steven Sare as chief merchandising officer of Uniqlo USA. He comes to the company from Express, where he served as senior vice president and general merchandising manager.
Finally, Fast Retailing said Jörgen Andersson will join the company on Monday as Uniqlo’s co-global chief marketing officer. Andersson worked for many years at Hennes & Mauritz in various roles. Most recently, he was global brand and new business director at Esprit Holdings Ltd.
On Monday, the company released its December same-store sales figures for its Uniqlo stores in Japan. Comps increased by 1.1 percent. Fast Retailing said colder temperatures pushed consumers to buy winter items. After opening two stores in December, Fast Retailing currently operates 839 Uniqlo outposts in Japan. Fast Retailing said Thursday that it is planning to open a new 28,460-square-foot store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district on March 14.