After recording a loss and steep declines in revenues during its first fiscal quarter, VF Corp. , whose core brands are Vans, The North Face and Timberland, bounced back in the second quarter, ended on Sept. 26, with a smaller decline in sales and a return to profits. The management said that year-to-date results have surpassed its expectations across all brands, driven by e-commerce and China.

It attributed this performance partly to progress in recent years on its digital transformation plan, with investments in digital marketing and sales.

Hampered by store closures and other Covid-19 related restrictions, VF’s revenues fell by 18 percent from the year-ago quarter to $2,608 million, with a decline of 19 percent in constant currencies. However, this was much better than the 48 percent drop recorded in the first quarter. Net income reached $256.7 million, down from $649.0 million last year.

The gross margin fell by 3.4 percentage points to 50.8 percent, partly because of strong inventory clearance activity and currency headwinds.

Revenues in the Active segment fell by 16 percent in constant currencies, with sales declining by 11 percent at Vans. In the Outdoor segment, sales plunged by 24 percent. The segment comprises Timberland, which declined by 26 percent, and The North Face, down by 26 percent. However, the Work segment grew by 14 percent, led by a gain of 18 percent at Dickies.

The Americas, excluding the U.S., was the hardest-hit region, with group sales falling by 36 percent in constant currencies. The U.S. was down by 21 percent. In constant currencies, sales in the EMEA region fell by 20 percent, while they remained flat in Asia-Pacific, boosted by a 14 percent gain in China.

Overall, wholesale revenues declined by 20 percent at constant currency rates, while direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales fell by 17 percent. Online sales stood out, growing by 42 percent. Vans posted a 49 percent increase in digital DTC sales and Timberland a 62 percent surge.

VF noted that by combining its online sales with those carried out through pureplay e-commerce platforms, it achieved nearly 25 percent of its group sales online during the quarter.

While the global impact of Covid-19 continued, nearly all of VF’s retail stores in the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions, including Mainland China, remained open during the second quarter.

In North America, 75 percent of all retail locations were open at the end of the first quarter and over 95 percent at the end of the second one. Additional retail locations have re-opened since the end of the quarter, and currently all of VF’s North American retail stores are open. VF’s wholesale customers globally have re-opened almost all of their locations. The majority of VF’s supply chain is currently operational.

Because of elevated promotional activity, VF ended the quarter with inventories down by 10 percent from the prior year. It still had a solid financial position at the end of the quarter with about $2,700 million in cash and short-term investments, plus access to $2,230 million remaining under VF’s revolving credit facility.

For the full financial year, VF expects revenues to reach a level of at least $9.0 billion, reflecting a decrease of around 14 percent on an adjusted basis from the prior ytear. This includes a forecast low-single-digit growth in the second half, driven by a return to growth in the fourth quarter.

It anticipates that Vans’ sales will decline by less than 12 percent in the full year, implying at least 9 percent increase in the second half, driven by a return to growth in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Timberland is expected to decline at a high-teen rate for the year, but by less 9 percent in the second half thanks to growth in the last quarter.