July 31, 2020 / 2:27 AM / 10 days ago

SoftBank-backed Zozo shares untraded after Q1 profit jump

TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - SoftBank-backed online fashion retailer Zozo Inc’s shares were untraded with a glut of buy orders on Friday, a day after reporting after a 34% jump in first-quarter operating profit as Japanese consumers embrace online shopping.

Shares look set to close up 21% at their daily limit high of 2,860 yen. The results are a bright spot in a fashion industry hammered by the coronavirus outbreak as consumers stay home, benefiting from brands shifting unsold inventory to the site.

The profit growth is a tailwind for CEO Kotaro Sawada, who took over from flamboyant founder Yusaku Maezawa after the sale to SoftBank Group, which exerts control via its domestic internet business Z Holdings.

Maezawa pushed Zozo into the headlines with splashy but unsuccessful ventures like the Zozosuit body measuring suit but alienated key business partners. Tenants like Onward Holdings have returned to the site under the new management.

SoftBank is making a major push into ecommerce with Amazon and Rakuten contender PayPay Mall. The site also features Zozo, which hopes to bring in new customers beyond its fashion-loving base.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; editing by Uttaresh.V

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