Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo’s UK arm dramatically cut its losses in its last financial year as it edged closer to the black.

Pre-tax losses narrowed from £5.3m to £700,000 in its year ending August 31, 2010.

In documents filed at Companies House, the fashion retailer said it had met growth expectations in the region, posting a like-for-like sales surge of 31%.

Sales, excluding VAT, rose to £63.5m from £48.5m the year before.

However, Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing - which has more than 2,100 stores worldwide - said in April that sales in its UK Uniqlo business were marginally below target in the first half of the current year.

In Companies House documents, Uniqlo said the full-year figures “represent a strong improvement and demonstrate the significant growth of Uniqlo over the last three years… despite difficult trading conditions within the UK market over that time”.

Sales have nearly quadrupled since the year ending August 31, 2007, when the retailer reported turnover of £16.4m.

Uniqlo said it would “invest significantly” in new store openings, marketing, refurbishments and ecommerce to continue this growth.

Uniqlo has 11 stores in the UK, all situated in the Southeast. It is understood its long-term plan is to expand nationwide.

The retailer is seeking to further strengthen its position in the capital by replacing smaller London stores with larger premises, with property agents Harper Dennis Hobbs searching for shops.

Uniqlo is opening a 20,000 sq ft store in Westfield Stratford later this year, for instance.

This is the fashion chain’s second attempt at breaking the UK market after it retreated and closed the majority of its 23 shops in 2002.

Retail Week Knowledge Bank director Robert Clark said: “It is clearly way behind where it would like to be in terms of store numbers, but having had its fingers burned badly first time round, is obviously anxious to avoid any repetition of the perceived over-expansion.”