• H1 profit up 14.9% to US$166.9m
  • Footwear pushes sales up 13.1%
  • Sees moderate growth in H2

First-half profit at Belle International Holdings Ltd, China's largest retailer of women's footwear, has jumped 14.9% on higher sales.

During the six months to 30 June, net income rose to CNY1.14bn (US$166.9m) or CNY0.13 per share, up from CNY988m or CNY0.12 a year earlier.

Revenue at the Shenzhen-based shoe maker jumped 13.1% to CNY9.3bn, from CNY8.2bn last time, on steady growth in both the footwear and sportswear businesses.

Footwear sales rose 23.3% to CNY5.3bn, helped by demand for its own brands such as Tata, Staccato and Joy & Peace, as well as brands like Bata, Geox and Clarks, which it also distributes.

The firm also distributes sportswear brands including Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Mizuno, Li Ning, Kappa and Converse, and said sportswear revenues edged up 0.3% to CNY3.99bn.

Belle International said in a statement today (26 August) that while weak consumer sentiment "is still a key challenge" it is also seeing "green shoots" of recovery in many countries around the world.

While its footwear sales have been "fairly volatile" and largely driven by promotions, it is only the newer brands that have really suffered - which has enabled the company to maintain profit margins and inventory turnover.

However, it described the sportswear market as "sluggish," and says it still trying to clear "inventory bubbles" from before the 2008 Olympics. During the first half of the year it closed 650 under-performing stores.

Looking ahead, the firm says: "The road to recovery is neither straight nor even."

Its footwear business is expected to achieve moderate growth in the second half of the year, helped by the addition of new stores. But sportswear sales are likely to continue to be sluggish.

Earlier this month Belle agreed to sell its Fila sports brand business in China, Hong Kong and Macau to Anta Sports Products Ltd for CNY314m (US$46m).

The company's full interim results announcement can be read here.