Fast Retailing reports record first-quarter performance

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Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing posted a record first-quarter profit on Thursday and kept its yearly forecast unchanged, even as business in the key market of mainland China was hit by virus restrictions. The Japanese casual wear behemoth said better-than-expected sales and profit in the three months to December could largely be explained by the "growing diversification" of its business.

While it does not expect the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant to dent overall performance in 2021-22, the company sounded a note of caution over the unpredictable impact of the pandemic. "We expect to achieve our initial estimates, though we have difficulties involved in attempting to predict the future situation due to the global spread of COVID-19," it said in a statement

Net profit for the first quarter jumped 33 percent on-year to 93.6 billion yen ($817 million) marking its best ever first quarter, Fast Retailing said, as business in many parts of the world rebounded from virus lockdowns. However, revenue and profit declines were seen in mainland China, which is pursuing a strict "zero-COVID" strategy and has imposed tough localized restrictions in recent months.

Sales dropped in Japan, too, following strong performance the previous year and as warm autumn weather hit demand for winter outfits.

The company, one of the world's top apparel retailers, kept its net profit forecast for the year to August 2022 unchanged at 175 billion yen - a three-percent increase from the previous year's record figure. Its results have also been boosted by the depreciation of the yen, which recently hit a five-year low against the dollar.


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