By  on January 9, 2009

TOKYO –Swift sales of fall and winter merchandise at Uniqlo propelled a double-digit jump in first-quarter profits for Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the company said Friday.

The retailer, one of the few companies thriving in Japan’s very weak retail climate, also raised its guidance for its current fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

Fast Retailing’s net profit for the three months ended Nov. 30 rose 43.6 percent to 22.17 billion yen, $219.0 million. Sales increased 17.5 percent to 188.51 billion yen or $1.86 billion.

The company said Uniqlo’s core operations in Japan recorded a 51.2 percent rise to 39.39 billion yen or $389.2 million for the quarter. Sales rose 21.8 percent to 157.33 billion yen or 1.55 billion dollars for the first quarter. The momentum appears to continue. The company said Monday that December same-store sales at Uniqlo boutiques in Japan rose 10.3 percent, thanks to consumers snapping up warm clothes like down and fleece jackets.

First-quarter operating profit advanced 45.6 percent to 40.94 billion yen, or $404.5 million.

Fast Retailing said Uniqlo’s overseas business in the United States, China and Hong Kong went well in the three-month period. Still, there were negative aspects of the quarter. French fashion brand Comptoir des Cotonniers and lingerie firm Princesse Tam Tam saw declining sales and profit due to the economic slowdown in Europe and currency fluctuations, the company said.

Still, Fast Retailing revised upwards its full-year forecast. It now sees net profit coming in at 50 billion yen, $543.9 million and sales at 627 billion yen or $6.82 billion. The figures represent increases of 4.2 and 1.1 percent respectively from October’s original forecast.

Uniqlo plans to open its first stores in Singapore in the spring and summer. On Friday, Fast Retailing confirmed that the first store will open in early April at the Tampines Central 1 retail development while a second store will open at ION Orchard mall in early June.

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