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Muji parent seen ringing up another record profit in fiscal 2013

TOKYO -- Ryohin Keikaku Co., the Japanese retailer behind the Muji brand, is expected to report its best pretax profit ever after a year of brisk sales growth at home and in its Asia-focused overseas business.

     Group pretax profit likely climbed 13% to slightly more than 22 billion yen ($213 million) in the fiscal year ended Friday, eclipsing a record set only the year before. The Tokyo-based firm had been projecting 22.1 billion yen.

     Operating revenue likely rose about 20% to around 225 billion yen, beating a company forecast of 206.2 billion yen. Fall and winter clothing has been selling well, as have easy-fit jeans that hit stores in January. February same-store sales apparently topped the year-earlier level despite heavy snow in Japan.

     Customers bought more items on average, an improvement the company attributes to new, easy-to-browse store displays. Besides apparel, furniture and other household items also moved as Japanese rushed to buy homes ahead of the April 1 consumption tax hike.

     Ryohin Keikaku's overseas store count rose more than 20% to about 260, or 40% of the total. Same-store sales growth proved particularly strong in China, where the Muji brand is well-established.

     The company remains keen on adding stores abroad in the new fiscal year, with a continued focus on Asia. Overseas growth should help offset an expected slump in domestic sales after the tax increase.

(Nikkei)

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