Sportswear and equipment giant adidas-Salomon AG on Thursday posted record full-year sales for 2001 of 6.1 billion euros, boosted by a two per cent climb in apparel sales and growth in all product categories.

Strong footwear sales also helped the group record a five per cent year-on-year climb in annual sales, while fourth quarter operating profit increased four per cent to 55 million euros for the quarter compared to 53 million euros in the same period in 2000.

The company said in a statement that full-year net income climbed 15 per cent to 208 million euros, or 4.6 euros per share, from 182 million euros, or four euros per share, in 2000.

Asia was the fastest-growing region with sales up 15 per cent to one billion euros, versus 875 million euros in 2000, while in Europe, net sales gained seven per cent to reach 3.1 billion euros led by double-digit increases in footwear sales. Net sales in North America fell five per cent to 1.8 billion euros in 2001 versus 1.9 billion euros in the prior year.

Herbert Hainer, chairman and CEO of adidas-Salomon, said: "In one of the most challenging retail markets in years, we are pleased to have delivered on our targets in 2001. We achieved record-breaking sales, drove growth in all our brands and, most importantly, we grew our earnings by 15 per cent.

"Adidas-Salomon is strong and well-positioned for continued growth in 2002. We expect to increase net sales in all regions, in particular with double-digit growth in North America and Asia. Gross margin will remain strong despite challenging market conditions. And we will make strategic, long-term investments in 2002 which are critical to growing our brands globally and positioning the company for the future."

He added the group sees sales growth of at least five per cent and net income growth in the range of 5-10 per cent in 2002.