Fast Retailing Co is to kick-start the hunt for potential future leaders and executives with the launch of a three-year training program that will include lectures from current chairman and president, Tadashi Yanai.

Yanai, now 59, has said he will step down by his 65th birthday but a number of his prospective successors have left the firm, including former president Genichi Tamatsuka.

With plans to continue Fast Retailing's further expansion at home and abroad, with an ambitious target of JPY1trn (US$10.4bn) in sales, Yanai said the time is right to find a successor and train the next generation of mangers au fait in the company's unique management techniques.

The group made a 12% year-on-year increase in group sales to JPY586.4bn yen for the year ended August.

Yanai says to reach its JPY1 trillion goal the Uniqlo chain needs to make merger-and-acquisition deals in the US and Europe and it will need a new generation of executives to realise that.

By Michael Fitzpatrick.