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China drives record profit for Uniqlo operator as Japan slumps

CEO Yanai remains bullish on Chinese market but looks to India as well

Japanese fashion giant Uniqlo is partnering with robotics startups to automate the last tasks still handled by human workers at its warehouses. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing's net profit for the fiscal half ended in February climbed 9.5% on the year to a record 114 billion yen ($1.02 billion) on brisk sales in China despite sluggish results in its home market of Japan.

Monthly sales for Uniqlo's Japanese operations were down from September through December for their first decline in three years, dragged down by warm weather that slowed purchases of fall-winter items. The stellar profit for the half thus highlights the company's deepening dependence on the Chinese market.

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