Uniqlo parent's Q1 profit jumps 17 pct, hikes outlook

TOKYO Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:08am EST

TOKYO Jan 10 (Reuters) - Fast Retailing Co's quarterly operating profit rose 17 percent as price cuts and chilly autumn weather lifted sales at home outlets of its flagship Uniqlo casual clothing chain and the Japanese apparel retailer lifted its annual profit forecast.

Asia's top clothing firm posted a September-November operating profit of 56.6 billion yen ($644.32 million) after sales during the period rose 5 percent at Uniqlo outlets in Japan open more than a year.

Fast Retailing also lifted its operating profit forecast to 147.5 billion yen from its earlier estimate of 143.5 billion yen for the full year to August. That compares with the average estimate of 142.5 billion yen in a poll of 22 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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.

Shares of Fast Retailing jumped more than 50 percent in the 2012 calendar year compared with a 23 percent surge in the benchmark Nikkei average.

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