Foreign sales boost Uniqlo operator's 1H net profit

The Japanese operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing chain said Thursday its six-month net profit jumped 13.2 percent, thanks to robust overseas sales.

Fast Retailing said its net profit for the six months to February rose to 65.45 billion yen ($657 million) and operating profit gained 5.3 percent to 96.66 billion yen.

Sales jumped 17.0 percent to 614.84 billion yen, it said, adding that a weaker yen has also helped the firm's earnings.

"Particularly, strong performance of the overseas Uniqlo business and global-brand operations contributed to the increased revenue and profit," the company said in a statement.

The firm, which boasts more than 800 Uniqlo shops across Japan, has been expanding rapidly in the international market to compete with likes of Spain's Inditex, operator of Zara, Sweden's Hennes & Mauritz AB and US-based Gap.

In a drive to become the top fashion retailer in Asia, the company plans to open its biggest Uniqlo store in Shanghai later this year.

Despite political tension between Tokyo and Beijing, Fast Retailing already has 189 stores in mainland China.

Meanwhile, during the six months to February, the domestic Uniqlo saw increased sales, but its operating profit fell due to discount campaigns, the firm said.

Fast Retailing upgraded its full-year projections, expecting a net profit of 91.5 billion yen, up 5.17 percent from an earlier projection.

It now expects sales of 1.103 trillion yen, up 3.18 percent from the previous forecast. The company kept a full-year operating profit target at 147.5 billion yen.