Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing Co, has reported an impressive 18% increase in annual profit as it looks to expand its presence in key markets, particularly China. The company’s strategy is centered around the belief that the rising cost of living will make consumers more price conscious, leading them to turn towards affordable clothing brand Uniqlo.

To achieve its growth targets, Fast Retailing aims to open 80 new stores each year in Greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also plans to open 20 stores in North America and 10 in Europe. The company already has more Uniqlo stores in mainland China than in its home country of Japan, which is a significant indicator for retailers in the world’s second-largest economy.

Fast Retailing’s founder and CEO, Tadashi Yanai, emphasized that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a shift in consumer behavior. Consumers now prioritize value over luxury and are looking to simplify their lives by reducing unnecessary possessions. This change in mindset has worked in favor of Fast Retailing and its Uniqlo brand.

Contrasting with the disappointing earnings from luxury group LVMH, Fast Retailing achieved impressive financial results. Its full-year operating profit rose by 28% to reach a new record of 381.1 billion yen ($2.56 billion) in the 12 months through August. This exceeded the company’s previous record of 297.3 billion yen.

Fast Retailing aims to further increase its operating profit in the next fiscal year, targeting a new record of 450 billion yen. The company’s success can be attributed to its strong recovery in China post-pandemic. When faced with challenges in China, Fast Retailing shifted its focus to North America and Europe, implementing an aggressive growth strategy. Daisuke Tsukagoshi was promoted to president of the Uniqlo brand in North America to support this expansion.

In addition to its successful market strategies, Fast Retailing has also benefited from the depreciation of the yen, which has increased the value of its overseas sales. The company’s shares performed well, closing 1.2% higher than before the release of the results.

Tadashi Yanai, the founder of Fast Retailing, holds approximately 19% of the company’s shares, making him the richest man in Japan with a net worth of around $34 billion, according to Forbes.

Useful links:
– [Uniqlo Official Website](https://www.uniqlo.com/)
– [Fast Retailing Co Investor Relations](https://www.fastretailing.com/eng/ir/index.html)