Saucony, the US-based performance running shoe brand, is to focus on the Malaysian market after announcing disappointing sales in the first quarter last month.

The company will rely on its local sales agent, Royal Sporting House, to build the brand and target sales of its technical running shoes.

Ryan Ang, Royal Sporting House's assistant manager for advertising and promotion, told the Malaysian Sun newspaper that the company would focus on twelve models that would be distributed to each of Saucony's outlets.

"Technically there are not many players in the market that specialise in running shoes, therefore it is much easier to target serious or active runners," he said.

Marion Jacob, Saucony's international sales and marketing manager said that advanced features like the ground reaction inertia device, the first sole-based stability and cushioning system, have provided an edge for athletes.

"There are a lot of good looking shoes in the market but when it comes to Saucony, it is the technology that comes first," she said.

Last month, the company announced that sales for the first quarter were down four per cent. Net income was $1.3m or $0.22 per share on a diluted basis, compared to $3.2m, or $0.50 per share on a diluted basis, for the same period in 2000.

John H. Fisher, president and CEO, said: "Fiscal 2001 will be a year of re-focus, re-building and reorganisation. We believe that Saucony remains a powerful brand with significant potential and we are dedicated to maximising the opportunities that lie ahead."