Asics Corp. returned to profitability in the first quarter.
On Tuesday, the Tokyo-based sports brand said operating income hit 14.6 million yen for the period ended March 31, versus a loss of 882,000 yen in the prior-year period. Net sales rose 24.8 percent to 106.5 million yen from 85.3 million yen, fueled by strong sales in the performance running category, where sales rose 43.5 percent and profits increased 197 percent. The company also pointed to strength in its Onitsuka Tiger brand.
The company said sales increased in nearly all regions with strength in North America, Europe, Greater China and Oceania. Operating income rose significantly in Europe and Great China, Asics added, on increased sales and gross profit ratio improvements. E-commerce sales in the period jumped 86 percent. Apparel sales increased modestly in the period, posting a 0.2 percent over the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.
In North America, it was the first time in almost three years that the region had a positive operating income, driven by a sales increase of 22.9 percent.
“We are thrilled to start the year off with a profitable first quarter, an important sign that consumers share our vision for the brand,” said Richard Sullivan, president and chief operating officer of Asics North America. “Prioritizing investments in run specialty and restructuring our retail category were key driving factors and we anticipate continued success and momentum as the year progresses.”
In North America, Asics’ online sales increased for the 13th consecutive quarter as performance running shoes including the Gel-Nimbus, Gel-Kayano and GT-2000 models found fans. The division also saw growth in its core performance sports category as schools resumed and sales of tennis shoes spiked.
The brand started the year by doubling down on its mission statement of Sound Mind, Sound Body and its belief in the transformative power of sport. This year it will host several activations including the Blue Jean Mile, which supports mental health awareness during May, and it plans to host the second annual Asics World Ekiden, a relay race, later this year, which will be tied to footwear and apparel capsule collections.
Overall, Asics Corp. revised its outlook for fiscal year 2021 and is projecting sales to increase 2.6 percent to 4.1 percent to 385 billion to 395 billion yen, and operating income to jump between 35 and 64 percent to between 7 billion yen and 10 billion yen.