Fast Retailing Raises Forecast on Overseas Sales, Weaker Yen

Uniqlo Ad Campaign Autumn/Winter 2012 | Source: Uniqlo

TOKYO, Japan — Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s largest clothing retailer, raised its forecast for annual profit as the seller of Uniqlo apparel expanded overseas and benefited from the yen weakening to a three-year low.

Net income will probably be 91.5 billion yen ($918 million) for the year ending August, higher than its previous forecast of 87 billion yen, the Yamaguchi, Japan-based company said today in a statement. That compares with a 90 billion yen average estimate from 17 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Billionaire Tadashi Yanai’s casual clothes maker reported higher sales as it opens new stores, including one in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, under a plan to replace the Uniqlo brand’s utilitarian image. The company has said it expects to have 1,000 stores in China, matching the number in Japan, by 2020.

Outlets would total 1,000 in the rest of Asia, matching the combined number in Europe and America, under the plan.

The company had 2,314 stores globally as of November 2012, according to its website. The weaker yen drove up profit in the first half of the fiscal year, the company said in a statement today. The Japanese currency has continued its slide, posting a 19 percent drop against the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months.

Domestic March same-store sales rose as much as 23 percent as spring-like temperatures arrived earlier than usual, spurring sales of seasonal items including AIRism underwear.

Fast Retailing shares rose 3.1 percent in Tokyo trading today and have doubled over the past year.

–By: Anjali Cordeiro; Editors: Dave McCombs, Anjali Cordeiro