• Kyodo

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Fast Retailing Co. said Thursday its net profit in the September to November period rose 33% from a year earlier to ¥93.59 billion ($820 million), reflecting upbeat sales of Uniqlo clothing in key markets including the United States and Europe.

The operator of the Uniqlo and GU clothing brands said demand in North America, Europe and some Asian countries made up for a slump in Japan as well as China where a resurgence in COVID-19 cases has led to a restriction in movements and some store closures.

"Earnings in Europe surpassed pre-COVID levels as appetite for spending rose amid a resumption in economic activity across the region," Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki said at a news conference.

Its operating profit from overseas business surged 44.6% to ¥59.9 billion, on sales of ¥299.7 billion, up 15%.

However, the company said warmer-than-usual weather in Japan led to a fall in its domestic sales and operating profit, sagging 10.8% to ¥226.4 billion and 18.8% to ¥48.7 billion, respectively.

Regarding a recent upward trend in raw material and shipping costs as well as a weaker yen, Okazaki said, "We want to avoid raising our product prices as much as possible, although we may have no choice for some goods."

Fast Retailing said its operating profit in the first quarter of its business year rose 5.6% to ¥119.41 billion on sales of ¥627.39 billion, up 1.2%.

It maintained its full-year net profit outlook through August at ¥175 billion.

The apparel chain left its full-year earnings forecast unchanged, citing growing uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic in the wake of the spread of the omicron variant.

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