Uniqlo parent company posts record Q1 profit

The total number of domestic Uniqlo stores is forecast to be unchanged this year as the company focuses on improving profitability through an overhaul of its distribution network.
The total number of domestic Uniqlo stores is forecast to be unchanged this year as the company focuses on improving profitability through an overhaul of its distribution network.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Japan's Fast Retailing Co raked in an all-time high profit in the first quarter, beating consensus estimate, buoyed by brisk business at its overseas Uniqlo clothing stores.

Fast Retailing has been pushing to expand overseas amid a patchy recovery in domestic consumer spending, in a bid to fulfil founder Tadashi Yanai's ambition to overtake H&M and Zara parent Inditex as the world's top apparel retailer. It is already Asia's biggest.

It posted operating profit of 113.9 billion yen (S$1.3 billion) for the quarter ended November, against 88.59 billion yen a year ago, topping a 106.8 billion yen Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate based on projections from four analysts.

Results were underpinned by the retailer's Uniqlo business, known for its HeatTech fabric clothing and ultra-lightweight down jackets, which saw its operating profit grow 54.7 per cent abroad. Uniqlo earnings rose 18.6 per cent at home.

Sales at overseas Uniqlo stores outstripped those at domestic stores for the first time.

The number of brick-and-mortar Uniqlo stores outside Japan has been growing steadily, with the company expanding into second-and third-tier Chinese cities with a target of hitting 1,000 stores by 2021 in that country from under 600 at the end of last year.

Sales at overseas Uniqlo stores outstripped those at domestic stores for the first time.

The total number of domestic Uniqlo stores is forecast to be unchanged this year as the company focuses on improving profitability by reducing wastage through an overhaul of its distribution network and driving traffic to its online store.

At Fast Retailing's low-cost chain GU, profit grew 31.8 per cent. Profit at the global brands unit grew 10.4 per cent. Fast Retailing left its operating profit forecast unchanged at 200 billion yen for the year through August.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2018, with the headline 'Uniqlo parent company posts record Q1 profit'. Print Edition | Subscribe