In the first quarter ended April 2, sales at Timberland went up by 7 percent to $317.0 million, a 3 percent increase in constant currencies from the same period a year ago, with growth in Europe, Asia and North America; 3.7 percent was contributed from positive currency effects. Operating income more than doubled to $39.4 million from $18.2 million in 2009. Net income jumped by 62 percent to $25.7 million, and the gross margin grew by 4.0 percentage points to 49.8 percent on a better product mix and less promotional selling.
Thanks to Asian markets, average selling prices were up slightly. The company said that a disciplined regional segmentation approach and a broader presence of the brand in key accounts led its business in North America to turn around.
Global footwear revenues grew by 6.6 percent to $225.5 million on improved wholesale results in Europe and Asia, favorable currency effects and higher comparable store sales. Turnover from apparel and accessories increased by 9 percent to $85.7 million.
Total wholesale revenues were up by 6.1 percent to $231.9 million, with double-digit growth in Asia and good results in Europe. Direct-to-consumer revenues rose by 9 percent to $85.1 million, with a 4.5 percent increase in comparable store sales. Timberland saw a net increase of four stores in the quarter, finishing with a total of 220.
Sales in Europe climbed by 8.7 percent to $151.6 million, with 2.6 percent growth in constant currencies, led by Spain, the U.K. and Italy. The distribution business in Europe saw a slight decline, particularly in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. The company's SmartWool brand went up in Europe by more than 30 percent through its new set-up. Retail revenues in Europe grew by 19 percent, boosted by currency effects and a 6 percent increase in comparable store sales. Spain and Germany had double-digit increases in comparable store sales.
Asia had a 17 percent sales increase to $44 million, or growth of 13 percent on a currency-neutral basis. Taiwan and China, where Timberland has almost 100 points of sale, were the stand-outs in that region. The company opened its first company-owned store in China during the quarter.
North American sales ticked up by 2 percent to $122 million on the strength of apparel and accessories, which offset flat sales of footwear. The wholesale business was flat, while retail grew by 5 percent, with a 3 percent gain in comparable store sales. E-commerce rose by 14 percent. SmartWool sales there were up by 4 percent. The gross margin in North America rose by 8.0 percentage points thanks to better inventory management and reduced promotional selling.
The company got a boost from outdoor hikers in this region, both at key accounts and specialty outdoor accounts, where sales were up by 10 percent in the last year. The Timberland Pro business produced a mid-single-digit sales gain, fueled by better-than-expected sales at key retailers and stronger at-once orders.
Timberland sees higher transportation, leather and labor costs in China impacting margins in the second half of the year.