US apparel group VF Corporation hailed a "strong start to the year" after posting a 62% rise in first quarter net income.

First quarter revenues rose to $1.75bn from $1.73bn in the first quarter of 2009.

Net income in the current quarter increased to a record $163.5m, VF said.

Earnings benefitted from lower pension expense and foreign currency translation rates compared with the 2009 quarter.

"We’re off to a strong start to the year," said Eric C Wiseman, chairman and CEO. "Our first quarter results were stronger than anticipated, marked by improving revenue trends and gross margins that were even stronger than our expectations. Actions taken in 2009 to lower our costs and reduce inventories are clearly contributing to our stronger results."

Based on strengthening trends, VF raised 2010 revenue guidance to an increase of 3 to 4%, up from prior guidance of an increase of 2 to 3%.

Click here for the company's full Q1 financial statement.