(Bloomberg) -- Fast Retailing Co.’s lineup of functional and casual attire continued to lure value-conscious shoppers whose preferences are changing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to push the Uniqlo operator’s first-quarter earnings close to an all-time high.
Operating profit rose 23% to 113.1 billion yen ($1.1 billion) in the three months ended Nov. 30, according to a company statement Thursday. That compares with analysts’ average estimate of 101.52 billion yen. Sales for the quarter fell 0.6% to 619.8 billion yen.
The Japan market has been a robust source of sales despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, which has created another state of emergency for much of the country. The company’s lineup of casual and functional clothing has attracted more value-conscious customers, resulting in higher same-store sales at Uniqlo’s Japan shops for each month of the quarter.
“Fast Retailing in this post-Covid world, it generally ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of the type of products that resonate with consumers,” said Macquarie Capital analyst Leon Rapp in an interview before the earnings release. “It offers good value for money, it lasts well, it’s a sensible purchase. In times of difficulty and mostly unknowns, consumers generally tend to look at the brands they know and trust online and offline as well.”
Fast Retailing’s stock closed at a record high before the earnings were released, rising 1.7% in Tokyo on Thursday.
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