Leading sports apparel designer and manufacturer Under Armour Performance Apparel has been named "Apparel Supplier of the Year" by industry peers at Sporting Goods Business after its record sales in 2001 drove triple-digit growth in its category.

Under Armour sales surged 150 per cent last year as it posted sales of $25 million and helped grow the performance apparel industry by 300 per cent through licensing deals, increased athlete usage and retail expansion.

A large portion of that growth was fuelled by the company's introduction of moisture-wicking apparel for the upper body to a category consisting almost exclusively of compression short producers.

Figures released by SportScan Info, the leading supplier of point of sale data for the sporting goods industry, indicate Under Armour products accounted for 74 per cent of performance apparel shirts sold.

The company also agreed deals to be the official performance apparel supplier to the National Hockey League, US Freestyle Ski Team, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, and as result increased its full-time workforce from 30 employees to 80.

"Just over a year ago, our products were for sale in 1,000 sporting goods retail outlets; now, Under Armour is for sale in more than 2,200 stores," said Kevin Plank, founder and president of Under Armour. "In 2002, we'll continue to innovate, expand the brand and introduce new products."

The Under Armour Fabric is designed to pull sweat from the body to the outside of the garment, keeping athletes cool and dry in summer, maintaining their core temperature in winter and accommodating the less extreme conditions of spring and fall.