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Uniqlo operator up 5.6 percent on debut in Hong Kong

HONG KONG--The operator of Japanese cheap-chic clothing chain Uniqlo closed up 5.6 percent on its listing debut in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as the company expands its brand across Asia.

Shares in Fast Retailing closed at HK$28.9 (US$3.72) in Hong Kong, its secondary listing after Tokyo.

Fast Retailing had said the Hong Kong move was meant to “demonstrate the company's commitment to, and focus on, Asia” and raise its exposure to investors and customers “in the rapidly growing Asian market including China.”

The company listed in depository receipts due to limits that prevent a straight share listing. These allow investors to buy its shares in the local currency instead of Japanese yen.

Depositary receipts are often used by firms to let investors trade their shares on a foreign exchange.

Uniqlo, which has more than 800 outlets across Japan, has been expanding rapidly internationally to compete with the likes of Spain's Inditex, operator of Zara, Sweden's Hennes & Mauritz AB and US-based Gap.

Despite political tensions between Tokyo and Beijing, Fast Retailing said it had 259 stores in mainland China by the end of last year, with plans to add 80 more outlets by August.

In a drive to become Asia's top fashion retailer, the company also opened its biggest Uniqlo store in Shanghai in September.

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