FASHION | Staff Reporter, Japan

East Asian presence and casualwear boost Fast Retailing's sales

Its LifeWear range may have been appealing to shoppers staying at home.

Fast Retailing's stronger presence in Japan and China, as well as its high mix of casualwear, has helped the company outperform many of its counterparts despite the global decline in the industry due to the pandemic, according to a report from GlobalData.

The report noted that the two countries have managed to suppress the virus more successfully than the global average, leading to consumers who are more willing to return to non-essential stores during the second half of the financial year.

"Whilst it suffered notable revenue losses across Europe and North America, its relatively low sales mix across these areas will prove to be beneficial into FY2020/21, with these regions currently experiencing second waves of the pandemic and further lockdowns," GlobalData's retail analyst Pippa Stephens said.

Further, consumers have favoured the company's high mix of casualwear during the crisis, as they spent more time at home.

"Its LifeWear range is likely to have been especially appealing to shoppers during this time, where these products are promised to be both comfortable and of high quality, while its sustainability focus will cater towards the growing number of eco-conscious shoppers, and help it to better compete with rivals like H&M and Levi’s," Stephens said.

However, its smaller global brands, such as Theory and J Brand, saw weaker performances during FY2019/20, with revenue down 26.9%, likely due to their more formal products which suffered from a loss of demand this year.

Stephens noted that these brands also have more premium price points, which would have made them less desirable as unemployment rates continue to rise globally.

The report advised the company to carefully monitor the progress of the pandemic in each of its regions throughout this process, so that its plans to open 40 stores globally in the new financial year would not be detrimental to its profitability.

According to a bourse filing, Fast Retailing's profit attributable to owners crashed 44.4% YoY to $858.27m (JPY90.3b) in FY2020, from $1.54b (JPY162b) in FY2019. Revenue fell 12.3% to $19.10b (JPY2.01t) over the same period.

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