Fast Retailing Co., operator of the Uniqlo chain, announced Thursday its group net profit dropped 24.8 percent to 20.93 billion yen for the business year that ended Aug. 31, marking the second straight year of decline.

Sales decreased 10 percent to 309.79 billion yen compared with the year before.

Nevertheless, the company said it is on track for a strong recovery. Uniqlo, which became a household name when it enjoyed a fleece-jacket boom a few years ago, is in rapid growth mode again, planning to open a net 50 new stores during the current fiscal year.

“We will be on the offensive starting in this fiscal year,” said Genichi Tamatsuka, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

Officials for the chain expressed much confidence, pointing to an upward earnings trend during the recent second half, when group net profit jumped 43.7 percent and revenue increased 3.7 percent from the same period last year.

They said the successful introduction of new items in women’s and baby lines, and clamping down on costs, contributed to the upbeat second-half results.

After seeing a sharp drop in sales after the Uniqlo boom petered out, the chain has worked hard in the last few years to lure back female shoppers, for instance introducing denim pants with an enhanced silhouette design.

During the latter half of the last business year, sales in women’s and children’s clothing logged double-digit year-on-year growth, with products for women accounting for 27.3 percent of the chain’s total sales.

For the full year, the chain opened a net 35 outlets, bringing the total to 622.

FR Foods Co., the Fast Retailing subsidiary that operates high-end Skip vegetable shops, logged a 930 million yen net loss on revenue of 650 million yen.

The company said Uniqlo will further expand its women’s line during the current fiscal year, especially intimate wear, noting the chain started offering Uniqlo bras for the first time this fall.

The chain also said sales of cashmere sweaters, introduced last month, have been selling at twice the company’s projection, though it did not provide figures.

For this business year, the company expects group net profit to jump 57 percent.

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