Uniqlo Sales in Japan Rise Most in Four Years

Uniqlo flagship in Tokyo's Ginza district | Source: Fast Retailing

TOKYO, Japan — Fast Retailing Co.’s Uniqlo brand reported its biggest sales gain in almost four years in Japan as Asia’s largest clothing retailer benefited from strong demand for summer apparel.

Same-store sales at Uniqlo Japan outlets rose 29 percent in August as high temperatures drove up sales of summer clothes, Fast Retailing said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. That’s the biggest increase since October 2009, when monthly sales gained 36 percent, according to data on the retailer’s website.

Fast Retailing, led by billionaire Tadashi Yanai, has opened new stores in locations such as Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district under a plan to revamp the Uniqlo brand’s utilitarian image at home. The retailer is expanding outside its home market as it targets sales of 5 trillion yen ($50 billion) by 2020.

The retailer, based at Yamaguchi, Japan, has also been increasing discounts in Japan to appeal to price sensitive consumers at home. Operating profit at its domestic Uniqlo business dropped 5.4 percent in the third quarter ended May amid discounting and increased marketing investments.

The company in July reported third-quarter net income rose 56 percent to 23 billion yen, aided by a weaker yen. The Japanese currency has dropped almost 13 percent against the dollar this year.

Yanai, Japan’s richest man, is ranked 48th in Bloomberg Billionaires Index with an estimated net worth of $16.2 billion. Fast Retailing shares have risen 56 percent this year, compared with a 34 percent rise for the broader Topix index.

The apparel maker had a total of 2,327 stores globally as of February, with 847 Uniqlo stores in Japan and 359 outlets overseas, according to its website. It got about 77 percent of its revenue from Japan in the year ended August.

By: Yuki Yamaguchi; Editors: Anjali Cordeiro, Subramaniam Sharma