Uniqlo Sales Jump Ahead in Asia, Falling Short in the U.S. and Europe

Its parent company, Fast Retailing, saw profits rise a whopping 64 percent at the start of the year.
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Eliza Brooke
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Its parent company, Fast Retailing, saw profits rise a whopping 64 percent at the start of the year.
A Uniqlo store. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

A Uniqlo store. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Fast Retailing, the Japan-based parent company of Uniqlo, is off to a strong start this fiscal year. The company reported Thursday that profits jumped nearly 64 percent in the first quarter to roughly $575 million, which ended November 30, having gotten a boost from a weaker yen. The results made investors happy, too — stock prices went up 3.3 percent in Tokyo after the news.

Here are some more glowing stats: Uniqlo posted better than expected gains in its native Japan, as well as in South Korea and Greater China, which the company defines as Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The brand's domestic success — a 12 percent revenue bump and 7.5 percent increase in same-store sales — owes partly to cooler weather in September, which had people running to the basics brand for its Heattech products, merino sweaters and its lightweight but surprisingly warm (I'm speaking from personal experience here) down jackets.

While Uniqlo International exceeded expectations overall, it did fall short in Europe and the U.S., Fast Retailing says. In Europe, profits stayed on par with last year's results, while U.S. profits took a hit. Fast Retailing didn't explain why sales didn't take off in these regions, but we'd guess that in the States it could have something to do with the relatively mild fall. 

Now that things have gotten obscenely cold here, perhaps we'll see more traction in the second quarter's results.

Fast Retailing's other global brands — Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse Tam Tam and J Brand — were a mixed bag. Theory clocked higher than expected growth, while the French Comptoir des Cotonniers reported sub-par results. Princesse Tam Tam and J Brand performed as expected, with flat year-over-year growth. But, on a whole, that's still better than the state in which the brands closed out 2014. Here's to a new year.