Fast Retailing's Uniqlo June sales beat forecasts

TOKYO, July 2 Tue Jul 2, 2013 2:28am EDT

TOKYO, July 2 (Reuters) - Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing Co Ltd, beat analyst expectations on Tuesday and posted a 20.5 percent year-on-year rise in domestic same-store sales in June as warm weather and a stronger economy encouraged shoppers.

Fast Retailing, Asia's biggest retailer, derives most of its earnings from its Japan-based Uniqlo stores which have seen double-digit sales growth in three of the last four months as a soaring stock market and improving macro environment thawed consumer sentiment in Japan's retail sector.

Uniqlo is seen as a bellwether of consumer appetite in Japan and the jump in June sales was the second-largest this year, after March's leap of 23.1 percent.

The apparel maker specialises in inexpensive basics such as innerwear, T-shirts, dresses and trousers, often designed in collaboration with foreign, high-profile brands.

"Any way you slice it, weather determines 50 percent of Uniqlo sales. An extra Sunday in June would have boosted sales units because of its weekend discounts," said consumer analyst Dairo Murata at JPMorgan in Tokyo, who had expected a 12 to 16 percent increase in June sales.

Fast Retailing is due to report its third quarter results on July 11. The company held its operating profit forecast at 147.5 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in April, disappointing investors who had hoped a weaker yen would increases overseas Uniqlo sales. ($1 = 99.7450 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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