Japanese retail giant Fast Retailing Co on Friday announced plans to axe nearly all of its UK Uniqlo stores amid sliding sales both here and at home.

The Tokyo-based company said it will close 16 of its 21 UK outlets before the end of August and book a three billion yen extraordinary loss to pay for the closures.

The five surviving stores are all in London while three of its stores in Shanghai, in China, will also be closed. The move comes amid slumping same-store sales at its 574 Uniqlo outlets in Japan.

Fast Retailing opened its first UK store in September 2001 and said it hopes the closures will return its British unit to profitability in the financial year ending May 2004.