Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing Co. plans to list depositary receipts in Hong Kong to help promote its brand to investors and customers in the region.
Fast Retailing, which is on an overseas expansion drive, said it doesn’t plan to sell new shares or raise funds through the listing. The receipts will trade on Hong Kong’s stock exchange on March 5, it said in a statement.
President Tadashi Yanai has invested in building the business overseas, expanding in the U.S., China and Indonesia and hiring executives from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Esprit Holdings Ltd., Express Inc. and Juicy Couture.
Profit in the three months through November rose 8.8 percent, beating analyst estimates, as Uniqlo sales overseas surged 77 percent, more than 40 times the Japan growth rate.
“The China region is growing, so this makes sense for the company,” said Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co. “Their investor relations activities and disclosures will be more vigorous.”
Yanai, Japan’s richest person, has ambitions for Fast Retailing to overtake Zara owner Inditex SA and become the world’s top clothing retailer. He has opened stores in New York, Paris, Shanghai and Jakarta, more than quadrupling overseas sales in the five financial years through last August.
“We expect high growth in the Asia region,” Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki told reporters Monday in Tokyo. “Hong Kong is the financial center for the Asia market.”
Fast Retailing has said it plans to open 200 to 300 outlets overseas annually and aims to open its first stores in Australia and Germany this year. The retailer targets opening between 20 and 30 stores a year in the U.S. and hopes to reach 100 stores there in the next few years, Yanai said last year.
The company is also adding stores in China and Indonesia as it bets on global expansion to boost sales to ¥5 trillion by 2020. Its brands include Comptoir des Cotonniers, GU, Helmut Lang, J Brand, Princesse tam.tam, Theory and Uniqlo.
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