TOKYO — Fast Retailing said Thursday that despite another year of double-digit gains in profits and sales, its rapid growth will slow somewhat in the coming year. The corporate parent of fast-fashion brand Uniqlo is expecting continued expansion in Asia, as well as strides in e-commerce, to drive its growth in the coming years.
Fast Retailing said that it expects net profit growth for the 12 months ending Aug. 31, 2016, to slow to 4.5 percent and come in at 115 billion yen, or $958 million. Sales growth will slow to 13 percent and come in at 1.9 trillion yen, or $15.82 billion. The company forecasts a 21.6 percent increase in operating profit, which it says will total 200 billion yen, or $1.64 billion.
Fast Retailing’s chairman, president and chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai said at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday that he aims to make global e-commerce account for 30 to 50 percent of the company’s overall sales, as opposed to the roughly 5 percent it makes up now.
“I think it will happen within ten years, but it could possibly be even sooner than that, like around three to five years,” Yanai said when asked about the term of this goal. “But I think it’s possible [to achieve] in a very short time.”
As reported, Fast Retailing recently partnered with Accenture in an effort to increase digital innovation.
Yanai has also said that he aims to eventually have 3,000 Uniqlo stores in China, which he plans to open at a rate of about 100 per year. However, he clarified on Friday that this goal is subject to change based on the retail climate.
“I think [3,000 stores] will happen some years from now, but the real and virtual worlds will become one and it will be a digital world, so maybe 3,000 stores won’t be necessary in the future,” the executive said. “However, if we continue at this pace, I think we will need 3,000 stores, so for now we are using 3,000 stores as our goal.”
In addition to Uniqlo, Fast Retailing also has plans to drive strong growth among its lower-priced G.U. brand. It plans to open more G.U. stores not only in Japan, but also in other Asian countries such as China and Taiwan.
As a midterm goal, Yanai said he would like the brand’s revenue to grow to 300 billion yen, or $2.46 billion at current exchange rates. G.U.’s revenue in the year ended Aug. 31 grew 31.6 percent to 141.5 billion yen, or $1.16 billion.
The company saw its net profit for the 12 months ended Aug. 31 rise 47.6 percent to 110.03 billion yen, or $935 million at average exchange rates for the period. Full-year operating profit grew 26.1 percent to 164.46 billion yen, or $1.40 billion. Sales grew 21.6 percent to 1.68 trillion yen, or $14.28 billion.