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Losses narrow to strengthen Uniqlo UK

Losses have narrowed and sales have soared at the UK arm of Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo as the business edged closer to turning a profit in the UK

Pre-tax losses at Uniqlo UK reduced to £700,000 in the year ending August 31, 2010, against £5.3m the previous year.

Like-for-like sales soared 31% over the period to £63.5m and the retailer said it had met growth expectations in the region. With 11 stores in the southeast of England, Uniqlo did not open any more during the period
but is understood to want to expand nationwide in the longer term.

In documents filed at Companies House, Uniqlo UK said it would “invest significantly” in new store openings, marketing, refurbishments and ecommerce to continue the strong growth seen in 2010.

Uniqlo UK will strengthen its position in London and the Southeast by replacing smaller stores with larger premises. In October 2010, it opened a 12,500 sq ft store in Bluewater in Kent and refurbished and expanded its store in Kingston-upon-Thames. Uniqlo will also open a 20,000 sq ft store in Westfield Stratford later this year.

The figures represent a strong performance from the business, which made its second attempt to break the UK market in 2008. It had retrenched in 2003, just two years after kicking off rapid expansion plans in the UK, closing 18 of its 23 stores at the time.

In April, Japanese parent company Fast Retailing said its UK arm had put in a lackluster performance in the six months since the year-end to February, with UK sales marginally below target. It did not disclose figures.

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