Global retail giant Uniqlo has become the latest company to agree to phase out the use of wool from sheep that have been mulesed.

The casual clothing chain is part of Fast Retailing, the fifth-largest retailer in the world, and joins other international retailers such as C&A, Topshop, H&M, Hugo Boss, Abercrombie & Fitch, Timberland and Gap Inc that have pledged to take action against mulesing.

Mainly practiced in Australia, mulesing involves cutting large chunks of skin and flesh from the rear ends of merino sheep, often without any pain relief, in an attempt to prevent maggot infestations known as flystrike.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has been campaigning for an end to mulesing, said Uniqlo's action "has shown the world and, most importantly, Australian wool producers that it believes cruelty to animals is never fashionable."

"Because of our commitment to animal welfare and health, we have directed our merino wool suppliers to phase out sourcing wool from farms that practice mulesing," added Uniqlo group senior vice president Yukihiro Nitta in a letter to PETA Australia.

As well as the many international companies that have moved away from wool from mulesed sheep, China's Sunshine Group, which is Australia's largest wool buyer, has also demanded that Australian wool farmers put an end to the practice.