Li Ning Company saw revenues increase by 65 percent in the first half of 2021 to 10,197 million yuan renminbi (€1,335m-$1,574m) from the year earlier, when its results were heavily influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chinese sportswear company’s gross margin expanded by 6.4 percentage points to 53.9 percent and its net attributable profit surged by 187 percent to RMB 1,962 million (€256.8m-$302.9m).

Sales of footwear rose by 57. Apparel and the equipment and accessories category both recorded a higher growth rate of 72 percent.

Li Ning said it continued to focus on its core activities of basketball, running, training, badminton and casual sports during the six-month period ended June 30, while accelerating the closure of loss-making, “low efficiency” and small stores. Excluding its Li Ning Young label, the total number of Li Ning points of sale in China stood at 5,704 as of June 30, down by 80 since the end of March and a decrease of 208 from the beginning of the year.

Looking ahead, Li Ning did not provide specific guidance but said it expected to benefit from the increased awareness among the Chinese population of the importance of fitness and health in the wake of the pandemic. Chinese sportswear groups like Li Ning, whose market capitalization has gained over 60 percent since the beginning of this year, have also been able to capitalize since March on the backlash against western brands that took a stand against China’s treatment of the ethnic Uyghurs.

Li Ning, executive chairman and joint CEO, who won six medals for the Chinese men’s gymnastics team in the 1984 Olympics, said the company was planning to scout out opportunities to “develop its brand from a Chinese brand to an internationally recognized, top-class global, fashionable and professional sports brand.”

The company’s small international segment delivered an increase of 78 percent to RMB 121.8 million (€16.0m-$18.8m) in the latest period. The brand has been entertaining international ambitions for a while. For about eight years until the beginning of 2019, Li Ning was distributed in 11 European countries by Luhta Sportswear, the Finnish-based company previously called L-Fashion Group, but the project didn’t work out. The brand also participated in the New York Fashion Week lately.