Sportswear giant adidas-Salomon has posted record 2004 preliminary earnings on sales increases across all divisions and good gross margin expansion.

2004 sales, based on preliminary figures, increased 7 per cent in currency-neutral terms to €6.478 billion, while sales in euros rose 3 per cent.

Group gross margin reached its highest level ever at 47.2 per cent, compared to 44.9 per cent in 2003.

The figure mirrors the growth in adidas's own-retail operations, a stronger euro, and a better product mix.

Net income for the group rose 21 per cent to a record €314 million from €260m in 2003, with basic earnings per share totalling €6.88, compared to €5.72 in 2003.

The company said that its performance in 2004 showed its capacity to "deliver significant operating margin improvements", and that the company aimed to push up net income by 10-15 per cent throughout 2005.

Adidas has forecast double-digit growth within its Asian units in 2005.