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Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing chain, had a decline in fiscal third-quarter profit as prices for cotton rose and the March 11 diaster disrupted business at some stores.

Operating income fell 4.6 percent to ¥22.5 billion in the three months that ended May 31. Sales rose 3.5 percent to ¥195 billion.

The figures were derived from a statement by the Yamaguchi Prefecture-based company Friday.

Fast Retailing, owner of the Uniqlo and Theory brands, curtailed operations at some stores after the magnitude 9.0 temblor and tsunami caused the nation’s worst postwar disaster.

The company said it is benefiting from the government-led Super Cool Biz campaign promoting casual office wear as employers reduce air conditioning to save power.

“Our sales are doing well from the end of June thanks to the hot summer,” boosting demand for sweat-wicking underwear and Super Cool Biz clothing, group Executive Vice President Nobuo Domae told reporters Friday in Tokyo.

Third-quarter net income fell 0.8 percent to ¥11.7 billion, partly because costs for the cotton used to make its jeans and chino pants climbed.

Average cotton prices more than doubled in the three months that ended May 31 from the previous year. Benchmark futures averaged $177.76 in the fiscal third quarter, compared with $81.79 in the year-earlier period, based on the most active contract for the fiber traded on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Fast Retailing will combat higher materials prices by offering fewer discounts, Domae said.

The company has also said it intends to expand overseas, where sales jumped 29 percent in the third quarter, adding stores in countries that include China, the United States and Thailand.

Profit will probably drop 2.7 percent to ¥60 billion in the year ending Aug. 1, the company said Friday, leaving its previous forecast unchanged.

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