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Asics Sees Strong Running Growth

Asics North America generated 19.9 billion yen ($172.8 million) in 2021 fourth quarter sales, a 20 percent year-over-year increase from the footwear marker’s 16.5 billion yen ($143.9 million). This marks the fourth consecutive quarter of positive growth for the region, which also turned its first annual operating profit since 2017.

The U.S. retail channel saw a “high double-digit” quarterly increase year-over-year, driven by strong holiday results. Asics North America also launched an e-commerce site in Mexico during the quarter.

Worldwide, Asics brought in 81.9 billion yen ($710.7 million) in net sales during the quarter, topping 2021 fourth quarter totals of 80.6 billion yen ($699.4 million) by 1.6 percent on a net loss of 9.7 billion yen ($84 million).

Asics’ global sales grew 22.9 percent to 404.1 billion yen ($3.5 billion) on net income of 9.4 billion yen ($81.6 million). The sales totals slightly passed the 400 billion yen sales estimates that the Japan company projected earlier this month.

In its consolidated annual financial statement, Asics Group said its challenges in 2021 consisted of the cancellation or scale-down of various running competitions, temporary closures of some owned retail stores and the temporary halt of operations at its production plant in southern Vietnam.

As it dealt with the increase in ocean freight costs, the copany worked to minimize the impact on sales by securing supply systems in each region and effectively utilizing inventory on hand.

By region, the company said year-over-year net sales increased by 16 percent in Japan to 109.9 billion yen ($953.4 million), 32 percent in North America to 86.1 billion yen ($747 million), 22 percent in Europe to 106.6 billion yen ($924.8 million) and 28 percent in Greater China to 52.5 billion yen ($455.5 million).

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Worldwide e-commerce sales for fiscal 2021 grew by 23 percent from the previous year. E-commerce now accounts for 16 percent of total sales at Asics Group.

“Our industry has faced many obstacles these past two years and we are incredibly thankful to our partners and customers for their patience and understanding,” said Richard Sullivan, president and CEO of Asics North America. “Even in the face of these challenges, our product response has been tremendous and we were thrilled to see the return of in person races like the Falmouth Road Race and Los Angeles Marathon.”

The global net sales gain was mainly driven by the performance running and core performance sports categories, which showed strong sales in all markets. Full-year net sales for performance running increased 31 percent to 208.3 billion yen ($1.81 billion), while sales for core performance sports increased 23.2 percent to 41.3 billion yen ($358.8 million). Net sales for apparel increased 14.5 percent to 34.1 billion yen ($296.1 million).

For 2022, Asics forecasts global net sales of 420 billion yen ($3.65 billion), a 3.9 percent increase over 2021 totals, on net income of 13.5 billion yen ($117.2 million). North America is expected to increase 1 percent to 87 billion yen ($755.2 million), while Southeast and South Asia will have the biggest market increase, a 19 percent jump to 13 billion yen ($112.8 million).

Asics said that throughout 2021, its North American success was driven by steady growth across all channels and propelled by the brand’s performance running category. The company credited its Gel-Kayano and Gel-Nimbus shoes for continuing to resonate with shoppers, while it highlighted the popularity of its new product lines such as the Blast Beyond Series and Meta Series.

In North America, the company recently launched a new brand campaign called “Live Uplifted” grounded in the founding ethos and mantra of “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.”

Asics will be rolling out a series of content featuring diverse and inspiring storytellers across the U.S. The brand is selecting storytellers who it says are “using the power of running in their communities to bring people together and make a meaningful impact.”

Additionally, the company will further integrate the Live Uplifted message and the “Sound Mind Sound Body” sentiment into its big moments throughout the year including the Asics Blue Jean Mile activation during Mental Health Awareness Month and the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Ore. for which Asics is an official event partner.

Companywide, Asics reeled in its highest-ever operating cash flow at approximately 50 billion yen in 2020 ($434 million) due to improved profitability and working capital.