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28th October 2016, Yamaguchi City, Japan

Fast Retailing launches JV with Shima Seiki to produce WHOLEGARMENT knitwear for UNIQLO

Fast Retailing Co Ltd, owner of Japanese clothing retailer UNIQLO, has announced today the launch of Innovation Factory Co Ltd, a joint venture with Japanese flat knitting machine manufacturer Shima Seiki, for the joint development and manufacture of seam free knit products, aimed at establishing a new production system utilizing Shima Seiki WHOLEGARMENT technology.

Innovation Factory was originally established in December 2015 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shima Seiki Mfg. Ltd, producing WHOLEGARMENT knitwear. Following the establishment of the joint venture, the company will now produce WHOLEGARMENT products for the Fast Retailing Group, principally UNIQLO.

Shima Seiki's flagship WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine, the MACH2XS. (c) Shima Seiki.

“Fast Retailing is launching a joint venture with Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd., a firm with world-leading knitting machine production technologies, with plans to produce high-quality, value-added WHOLEGARMENT knit products. In future, the joint venture company is expected to function as the lead factory in the production of innovative knit products for the Fast Retailing Group,” Fast Retailing said in an Investor Relations statement today.

Innovation Factory Co., Ltd. Is based in Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, the hometown of Shima Seiki. The company is listed as a manufacturer of knit products including seamless knitwear with invested capital of 400 million yen.  51% of the shares in the company are owned by Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd. With the remaining 49% being owned by Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.          The company was established yesterday, October 27, 2016.

Shima Seiki was founded in 1962 for the automation of glove knitting machines. Today, the company is a comprehensive mechatronics firm, creating attractive products that expertly combine advanced hardware with exceptional software. It holds the world's top market share in the computerized flatbed knitting machine field, and is a pioneer in knitting machine manufacturing. Shima Seiki Group net sales were ¥49,582 million (appx. US$ 470 million) (FY3/16).

WHOLEGARMENT is a seamless knit product developed by Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd. With seam free construction, WHOLEGARMENT yields comfort and draping effect and provides value-added products with greater design flexibility compared to traditional knitwear products, Fast Retailing said.

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