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Japan-Update

Overseas Uniqlo sales top domestic figure for first time

Fast Retailing reports 13% rise in first-quarter net profit, reaching record

TOKYO -- Fast Retailing said Thursday that its Uniqlo casual clothing chain generated more sales from abroad than from the domestic market for the first time.

Uniqlo sales in Japan rose 8% on the year to 257 billion yen ($2.31 billion) for the first quarter ended in November. Overseas sales grew more sharply, surging 31% to 258.2 billion yen.

Fast Retailing also operates a more affordable brand, GU. The retailer said September-November group net profit came to 78.5 billion yen, climbing 13% on the year and setting a record for the second year in a row. Curbing discounts at home and abroad helped improve profitability. Sales bounced 17% to 617 billion yen.

In Japan, cold weather drew customer traffic at Uniqlo stores, lifting the chain's same-store sales 8%. Top sellers included Heattech functional innerwear and the line of Ultra Light Down jackets. Sales via the internet soared 26%.

Uniqlo's same-store sales also increased in China, while the chain's long-bleeding North American operation turned profitable.

Fast Retailing kept its full-year projections through August, expecting group net profit to rise 1% to 120 billion yen. The first quarter outperformed forecasts in both sales and profit, but Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki still expressed vigilance.

"Because the key autumn-winter sales season is not yet over, we are observing cautiously," Okazaki said.

(Nikkei)

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