Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing sees 13.5 pct growth in 2012/13

TOKYO Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:08am EDT

TOKYO Oct 11 (Reuters) - Fast Retailing forecast a 13.5 percent rise in annual operating profit for this financial year amid expectations that growth from overseas outlets of its Uniqlo basic apparel and Japan cut-price clothing g.u. chains will drive profits.

Asia's top apparel retailer projected on Thursday 143.5 billion yen ($1.83 billion) in operating profit for the year that started in September, lower than the 148.8 billion yen average estimate from a poll of 23 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For the past business year, the clothing company booked an 126.5 billion yen operating profit, an 8.7 percent year-on-year rise, helped by higher sales at Uniqlo shops in Japan, which account for about three-quarters of sales for the entire group.

Uniqlo dominates Japan's retail apparel market and Fast Retailing is mounting a global push of the in-house brand of affordable basics in order to leapfrog Zara owner, Inditex S.A. , Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) and Gap Inc. to become world's top apparel retailer by 2020.

Fast Retailing shares have jumped more than 25 percent since the start of the calendar year, outperforming a 1 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average.

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