Spain-based fashion group Inditex has bought the remaining 15% stake in its subsidiary Zara Japan from Japanese company Bigi.

Inditex said the acquisition marks "a step forward" for the business within Japan, where it has been present since 1998. The company currently operates 18 stores under the Zara format in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Sapporo.

Zara Japan was incorporated in 1997 as a 50/50 joint venture between Inditex and Bigi. Inditex raised its stake in the subsidiary to 85% in May 2004.

Inditex said it expects to "foster growth rate in Japan over the next few years" and boost its presence in other Asian markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The company also plans to enter new markets such as China, Thailand and South Korea.

In addition to Zara, Inditex operates the Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Kiddy's Class names. Group net sales jumped 20% to EUR4.7m (US$5.6m) for the first nine months of 2005.