Bosideng, China’s top home-grown down jacket brand, said on Wednesday it overcame Covid and other global headwinds and reported gains in sales and profit for the 12 months ending March 31.

Sales increased by 20% to 16.2 billion yuan, or $2.4 billion, helping to lift profit by 21% to approximately 2.06 billion yuan.

Bosideng was upbeat about the outlook this year. “Currently, global consumption demand for apparel is recovering steadily,” it said. “Although we confronted numerous challenges from the epidemic and other various aspects in 2021, we still believe that from a long-term perspective, China’s economy will recover in an orderly manner in the post-epidemic era.”

Bosideng is led by its colorful 70-year-old CEO Gao Dekang, who has a fortune worth $4.8 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List. Itochu of Japan is an investor; rivals include Canada Goose. Bosideng’s Hong Kong-traded shares have fallen 16% in the past year; that compared with a 26% drop Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Sales rose in the past year even as Bosideng reduced its number of “selling points” by 341 to 3,809. Bosideng “established better stores in shopping malls, popular business areas and core areas of cities by ‘closing down small stores and opening large ones.’” Online sales grew at a slower pace than overall sales – 12.3% — to 4,0 billion yuan

Bosideng’s branded down apparel business remained the biggest source of revenue, — 13.2 billion yuan, accounting for 81.6% of the total revenue. It increased 21%. The company said it remained optimistic about a joint venture announced at the end of last year with Bogner of Germany to sell winter sports apparel, and “believes that there is great growth potential in the premium sport fashion market in China, and Bogner will see significant opportunities in China’s markets. Bosideng and Bogner share their love for winter sports apparel and fashion.”

Gao set up his first apparel business with a team of 11 villagers in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province when Chairman Mao was still alive, back in 1975, after learning how to sew from his father.

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As business grew, the group’s factory — called the Kangbo Arts and Crafts Fashion Factory — was formally set up as a collective in 1991. In 1994, the business was restructured into Bosideng Corp. with Gao as the driving force. A big early success: getting space to sell his jackets into department store industry that was dominated by state-owned companies.

Gao told me in an earlier interview: “At the start of China’s reforms, everyone didn’t have experience, and you had to figure out how to do the business,” he said. “To survive, you had to create the product and create a brand,” he recalls. “I went step by step.”

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