Chinese sportswear firm Li Ning Group has posted healthy 2009 profits up 31% to RMB944m (US$138m) on 25% increased revenue to RMB8.4bn.

"2009 was an extremely challenging year with economies around the world swept by the global financial crisis," said Group chairman Li Ning. "China was also impacted by this crisis in 2009, especially in the first half of the year.

"In addition, the post-Beijing Olympics effect impacted the pace of growth of the sporting goods industry during the year."

As the Group's core brand, Li Ning sales accounted for 91.7% of total revenue, up 21.1% to RMB7.7bn. Sales of Li Ning footwear products, apparel products and accessories grew by 19.1%, 22.3% and 27.4% respectively.

The group continued to develop its multi-brand strategy during the year. Revenue from Double Happiness and Lotto brands accounted for 5.1% and 0.9% of the Group's total.

Total revenue generated by AIGLE, Z-DO and Kason brands was RMB190m.

With Li Ning's sporting background as one of China's most iconic athletes - the gymnast featured in a memorable dash around the top of the Olympic stadium in Beijing - it is perhaps no surprise the Group sponsors five of China's gold-medal teams in table tennis, gymnastics, shooting, diving and badminton among others.

Capitalising on the immense popularity of badminton, the group rolled out Li Ning brand badminton gear in Hong Kong and cities in South East Asia such as Singapore.

The group also expanded its sales channel coverage, especially in second- and third-tier cities with strong growth potential. Meanwhile, the group enhanced the management of retail store operations in metropolitan and first-tier cities through establishing uniform retail operation standards.

As at 31 December 2009, the group had 8,156 retail outlets in China - 7,249 of which were Li Ning brand stores - representing a net addition of 1,239 stores compared to last year.

"We will also continue to improve ourselves in the area of integrating the product, retail management and communication with consumers so as to achieve consistent and sustainable development and hence, creating even greater value for our shareholders and investors," said Li Ning.