January 9, 2020 / 6:56 AM / 20 days ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Fast Retailing cuts outlook as Uniqlo sales hit in Hong Kong, S.Korea

(Corrects to show Greater China booked profit decline, not loss, paragraph 4)

By Ritsuko Ando

TOKYO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Japan’s Fast Retailing Co cut its outlook for the full year after a weaker-than-expected quarter, as protests in Hong Kong and a consumer boycott in South Korea hit sales at its Uniqlo stores.

The setback comes as Uniqlo had come to depend on the rest of Asia for its growth, especially China, where its mix of affordable basics and occasionally trendy items proved a massive hit among the burgeoning middle class.

At home, the retailer has been battling slowing growth, a saturated market and weak consumer spending. It has also been slow to expand in the U.S. and European markets.

The company booked a decline in operating profit in the Greater China region, which includes its Hong Kong business, in the September-November quarter.

Its South Korea business was also in the red due to a prolonged boycott of Japanese goods there, it said.

It forecast annual operating profit to fall 5% to 245 billion yen ($2.24 billion). It previously expected a rise to 275.0 billion yen for the year through August.

Operating profit for the financial first quarter fell to 91.7 billion yen from 104.7 billion yen a year earlier.

That compared with the market’s consensus forecast of 110 billion yen, according to Refinitiv data. ($1=109.3000 yen) (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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