Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain, said Thursday its group net profit rose 29.8 percent to a record 154.81 billion yen ($1.38 billion) in the year through August thanks to strong sales at home and abroad.
Reflecting growth in China and Southeast Asia, its annual overseas sales surpassed those in Japan for the first time, said the company which now eyes expansion into the fast-growing Indian market.
Fast Retailing said its group operating profit climbed 33.9 percent to 236.21 billion yen on sales of 2.13 trillion yen, up 14.4 percent, both also record highs.
For the current business year, the retailer projects a 6.6 percent increase in group net profit to 165 billion yen and a 14.3 percent rise in operating profit to 270 billion yen on estimated sales of 2.30 trillion yen, up 8.0 percent.
"The global market offers more (growth) potential, and we would like to further expand our overseas presence," President and CEO Tadashi Yanai told a press conference.
Overseas sales grew 26.6 percent to 896.3 billion yen as the company enjoyed solid demand in Asian markets, new store openings proceeded as planned and stores continued to refrain from discounting to clear inventory.
Yanai said Fast Retailing plans to enter the Indian market by opening its first store there next autumn in New Delhi.
"India is one of the growth centers of the world economy, and we cannot become the world's largest (apparel maker) without India," he said.
(Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai)
Domestic sales rose 6.7 percent to 864.7 billion yen, benefiting from colder than usual weather during the winter season and record temperatures in summer. Its online sales were up 29.4 percent at 63.0 billion yen, accounting for about 7 percent of domestic sales.
As part of the company's supply chain reform, the retailer said it will seek greater use of artificial intelligence to help factories, distributors and stores adequately supply products and better manage inventories.
The company also said the president's two sons, Kazumi and Koji, who are both senior vice presidents, will become board members effective Nov. 29 to give members of the founding family a greater role in managing the company.
The 69-year-old founder said their promotion does not mean that one of them will become his successor, and he has no immediate plan to retire.