According to figures recently released by the Tissu Maille organisation of knitted fabric manufacturers, growth prospects look rosy for firms servicing the sportswear market.

Tissu Maille estimates the increase in sales of women's sportswear at a steady five per cent a year. It says the greatest opportunities for its members' fabrics are stretch content qualities or yarns suitable for making seamless garments.

The predicted growth rate is based on a recent independent survey which reveals that 50 per cent of adult French women now do some form of active exercise.

However they still have some way to go to catch up with French men, 70 per cent of whom make a similar claim.

But whereas French men tend to seek physical fitness by playing traditional team games, women prefer to go to the gym. 

By Sonia Roberts.