Fast Retailing cuts annual outlook on virus woes; Uniqlo sales in Japan rebound

Uniqlo's domestic same-store sales rose 26% in June from a year earlier

  
Women wearing face masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, shop inside a store of the Fast Retailing's fashion chain Uniqlo, at a shopping complex in Beijing, China May 24, 2020.

Women wearing face masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, shop inside a store of the Fast Retailing's fashion chain Uniqlo, at a shopping complex in Beijing, China May 24, 2020.

Reuters/Florence Lo

TOKYO - Japan's Fast Retailing Co, owner of casual clothing brand Uniqlo, lowered its profit outlook for the year through August as the global pandemic wreaked havoc on its global fashion business.

It now expects an annual operating profit of 130 billion yen ($1.21 billion), down 50% rather a previously expected 44% drop, after an operating loss of 4 billion yen in March-May quarter.

But the company also reported a strong rebound in Uniqlo's domestic same-store sales for June and said business in China was recovering at a faster-than-expected pace, suggesting it may weather the crisis better than many global peers.

Uniqlo's domestic same-store sales, including online purchases, rose 26% in June from a year earlier, after falling 57% fall in April and 18% in May.

The company said it was seeing a "faster-than-predicted pace of recovery" for Uniqlo in Japan and China, and said it would continue to open more Uniqlo stores around the world.

Fast Retailing has come to depend on Asian economies, especially China, where Uniqlo's mix of affordable basics and occasionally trendy items proved a massive hit among the burgeoning middle class.

Most stores in China and Japan have reopened after coronavirus-related closures.

Analysts say Fast Retailing's focus on Asia and inability to make strides in the United States, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, may help shelter the company from the worst of the global pandemic. ($1 = 107.2300 yen)

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Himani Sarkar) ((Ritsuko.Ando@reuters.com; +81 3 6441 1743;))

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