Uniqlo operator's profit rose on stronger sales

Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, has said its first-half net profits rose over 5 percent from a year earlier, thanks to strong sales in China and Japan.

The company said on Thursday that net profits for the six-month period ending in February rose to 106 billion yen, or about 964 million dollars.

The company reported operating profit of 168 billion yen, or about 1.5 billion dollars, an increase of 22.9 percent compared to a year earlier.

The results show a continuing recovery from the pandemic. The company said sales and profits in China exceeded its projections.

Fast Retailing slightly raised its forecast for the 12 months that will end in August.

It expects revenue to increase 10 percent from the previous fiscal year to 2.21 trillion yen, or about 20.2 billion dollars. It had previously estimated a 9.5 percent rise.

Yanai Tadashi, Chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing, told reporters "Asia is and will be the world's growth center. We will accelerate our expansion in the region so that we can be the undisputed No.1 company in Asia."

In China, some foreign brands have stopped using cotton from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region because of reports of human rights abuses.

Fast Retailing had issued a statement in August last year, saying "No Uniqlo products are manufactured in the Xinjiang region."

On Thursday, Yanai declined to comment on related questions, saying "I would like to avoid commenting further on the issue because it is more of a political issue than a human rights issue."

He said "We are carefully watching the conditions of cotton cultivation and processing at our factories. If problems are found in working conditions, we will suspend business with that factory."

He also said "Human rights are very important and we have been doing everything that needs to be done."