• H1 profit up 56% to JPY55.3bn (US$594m)
  • Sales rose 31.8% to JPY470.9bn
  • Sees FY profit of JPY71bn

Fast Retailing Co, operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain, today (8 April) raised its full-year forecast after booking record first-half sales and profits.

The retailer said the gains were largely due to strong sales of autumn and winter lines at its Uniqlo stores, coupled with the chain's overseas expansion.

For the six-months to February, the company posted a net income of JPY55.3bn (US$594m), up 55.7% on last year's JPY35.5bn, on sales that rose 31.8% to JPY470.9bn.

Results were helped by innovative products like the Heattech heat-retaining thermal underwear, ultra light down jackets and the +J collection with fashion designer Jil Sander.

Domestic sales of Heattech garments nearly doubled from 27m pieces last year to 47m pieces this year, and sold out by the middle of January.

Strong sales and fewer discounts also helped lift gross margin by 2.3 points.

International sales at the Uniqlo stores rose by 30% to 50% year-on-year, with the biggest gains coming from Asian markets like China, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.

Sales at the Theory and Comptoir des Cotonniers brands in Japan, Europe and the US have seen a rebound.

The company plans to accelerate its international expansion, with its first Russian store in Moscow opened earlier this month and a Shanghai global flagship - its largest global store with a sales floor of 39,000 sq ft - set to open its doors in May.

Looking ahead, Fast Retailing said it expects to post a profit of JPY71bn in the year to August, up from earlier forecasts for a profit of JPY67.5bn. Sales are seen rising 22% year-on-year to JPY834bn.

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