Uniqlo pins recovery hopes on cashmere

Uniqlo UK is hoping to make a comeback by introducing 100 per cent pure cashmere jumpers, as it aims to break even by the end of the financial year.

UK managing director Masayuki Nagatake said cashmere had been 'a smash hit' in Japan, and the retailer would launch it in its five UK stores for autumn/winter 2004. Jumpers will cost less than£50.

Last November, Uniqlo's parent company Fast Retailing said sales in its Japanese stores had been boosted by the introduction of cashmere sweaters. 'That's the answer,' said Nagatake.

He added: 'Maybe customers think we're a discounter, but we're not. We provide good-quality materials. Maybe we haven't marketed well enough.'

Nagatake remained confident that Uniqlo will break even by the end of this financial year, which falls at the end of this month, and post sales of at least£10 million. Uniqlo is close to signing its first central London shop since scaling back last March. The shop is slated to open in September.