"I think since there weren't any new products, especially at the start of the season, (customers) thought there wasn't really any reason to come to Uniqlo," Yanai said. Sales at Uniqlo outlets open more than 12 months fell nearly 11 percent in September and 4 percent in October from year-earlier levels.
For the fiscal year ending in August 2012, Fast Retailing, which gets more than 70 percent of its sales from Uniqlo Japan, is projecting a 5 percent year-on-year rise in same-store stores of the casual clothing chain. Fast Retailing plans to ramp up overseas openings of its Uniqlo stores to 200-300 shops and sees the potential for a total of 4,000 Uniqlo outlets by 2020, with sales from Uniqlo abroad set to surpass domestic sales in 2015.
Yanai, ranked by Forbes magazine as Japan's second-richest man, said acquisitions would be the easiest way to grab large scale overseas. "If there is chance for acquisitions in Europe or the United States, we'd like to do it," Yanai said. "(Targets would be limited to) firms that could be used as a platform for Uniqlo."
Fast Retailing, whose rivals include Spain's Inditex (ITX.MC), Sweden's Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) (HMb.ST), and U.S.-based Gap (GPS.N), is also planning to keep 80 percent of its production in China, with the remaining 20 percent in Southeast Asia. The company is projecting an operating profit of 135.5 billion yen for its business year that ends in August 2012. If it hits the estimate, it would mark the third time in the last four years it has achieved a record profit. ($1 = 78.030 Japanese Yen) (Reuters)