Japan Fast Retailing H1 profit rises, lifts outlook

TOKYO - Asia's top apparel retailer, Fast Retailing Co, posted an 11.8 percent rise in its first-half operating profit after seasonal winter weather boosted sales at Japan outlets of its Uniqlo brand, and lifted its full-year profit forecast.

Uniqlo's Shinsaibashi global flagship store / Photo: Fast Retailing

The operator of the Uniqlo basic clothing chain said on Thursday its September-February operating profit totalled 91.75 billion yen ($1.13 billion), following a 2.3 percent rise in same-store sales at Uniqlo outlets in its main Japan market over the period.

Fast Retailing lifted its operating profit forecast to 138 billion yen from 130.5 billion yen for the fiscal year ending in August, which is above the average estimate of 132.9 billion yen in a poll of 24 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fast Retailing makes the bulk of its profits in Japan, but like other speciality brand retailers, including Spain's Inditex, Sweden's Hennes & Mauritz and U.S.-based Gap, it is making a big push to expand in Asia.

Investors have cheered the plans, sending shares of Fast Retailing more than 20 percent higher in the year to date, almost double the rise in the benchmark Nikkei average.

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