Fast Retailing Co. saw sales and profits surge for the business year that ended in August thanks to brisk sales buoyed by the opening of new Uniqlo outlets in Japan and the acquisition of domestic and foreign retail brands.

The operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain said Thursday that its group net profit during the September-August period grew 19.3 percent year on year to 40.4 billion yen while its operating profit surged 24.1 percent to 70.3 billion yen.

Consolidated sales rose 17 percent to 448.8 billion yen.

“The acquisition of Nelson Finance S.A.S. and Petit Vehicule S.A., which operates (lingerie chain) Princess tam.tam., contributed to the increase in sales and profits,” Tadashi Yanai, chief executive officer, said at a news conference in Tokyo.

In May 2005, Fast Retailing acquired Nelson Finance, which became Fast Retailing’s wholly owned subsidiary in June 2006, and Petit Vehicule in January. The two French companies helped inflate the firm’s sales by about 20 billion yen from the previous year.

Although the company does not disclose how much it spent for specific acquisitions, the firm said it spent 20.7 billion yen on investments in subsidiaries during the September-August period, including the acquisitions of the two French companies.

Despite prolonged bad weather in the summer that caused sales at department stores and retailers to decline, Uniqlo stores in Japan enjoyed brisk sales. Sales from domestic Uniqlo operations rose 7.7 percent year-on-year to 393.6 billion yen.

The number of Uniqlo stores in Japan increased to 703 during the business year ending in August, 39 more than in the previous year.

Fast Retailing has been diversifying its portfolio in an effort to reach 1 trillion yen in sales and 150 billion yen in pretax profits by 2010.

While planning to aggressively open large Uniqlo stores with floor space of more than 1,650 sq. meters within two years, the firm continues to seek out overseas retail brands to attain its sales and profit goals.

Fast Retailing is ready to spend 300 billion yen to 400 billion yen to acquire other retail brands.

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