Net sales for the adidas-Salomon Group in the first nine months of 2000 grew by 7 per cent to Euro 4.4bn, continuing the growth trend registered in the first half of the year, the company announced today. Sales growth in the first nine months was driven by footwear and hardware, which were up 9 and 24 per cent respectively. The footwear increase was largely attributable to solid double-digit growth in the adidas basketball, soccer, adventure, and skateboarding categories. Hardware improvements reflect the introduction of new high-technology products at Salomon and TaylorMade-adidas Golf. Group apparel sales in the first nine months were virtually flat. Sales for brand adidas in the third quarter were up four per cent, which brought sales for the first nine months to Euro 3.7bn, a four per cent increase year-over-year. adidas brand footwear sales increased by eight per cent in the first nine months to Euro 1.9bn. adidas apparel sales were slightly below the previous year's level. Asia again delivered the highest regional growth rate with net sales increasing 33 per cent to Euro 589m for the first nine months, extending the growth pattern of the half year. In Europe, sales grew five per cent to Euro 2.3bn. In North America, sales performance for the first nine months matched last year's level at Euro 1.4bn.For 2000, Salomon and TaylorMade-adidas Golf are expected to achieve double-digit sales improvement as a result of new high-technology product introductions and increased sales efforts initiated with the Growth and Efficiency Programme. This is significantly above adidas-Salomon's original expectations and will compensate for the lower than expected performance of adidas in North America and the significant net negative currency effects and higher interest expenses, the company said. adidas-Salomon therefore confirms that it will meet its earnings forecast announced at the beginning of the year, of 20 per cent below the previous year's level.