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Uniqlo operator says annual profit soars to record

AFP-JIJI

Uniqlo’s parent company said Thursday that its annual net profit more than doubled from a year ago to a record, thanks to strong sales and as a cheaper yen inflated profits.

Fast Retailing’s net profit came in at ¥119 billion ($1 billion) in the fiscal year through August, with revenue up 4.2 percent at ¥1.86 trillion, it said.

Asia’s biggest retailer — a rival of Zara, Gap and H&M — said sales were particularly strong at Uniqlo’s foreign outlets including in China and around Asia-Pacific.

Fast Retailing has refocused its strategy on luring bargain-hunters after an earlier bid to raise prices hurt Uniqlo’s sales.

Operating profit for the latest period also surged, jumping nearly 39 percent to ¥176 billion, thanks partly to cost-cutting and a smaller loss in its U.S. business, the company said.

“Several factors contributed to this strong performance, including a considerable improvement in the gross profit to net sales margin following the shift towards much tighter discounting … the positive effects of cost-cutting efforts, and a halving of the operating loss at Uniqlo USA,” it said in a statement.

For the year to August 2018, the company expects a ¥120 billion net profit with operating profit at ¥200 billion on sales of ¥2.05 trillion — up 10 percent — as it eyes opening more stores outside Japan.