Leading sports shoe maker Azaleia is investing US$4 million in a new shoes, clothing and accessories line for Japan's Asics Corp. Azaleia's plant will also be used as Asics' Latin American export base.

Production is already underway at Parobe, and the two companies are aiming for a 25 per cent share of the Brazilian running shoes market. In the first year they hope to sell 600,000 pairs of shoes priced between R$130 and R$430. US$2.5 million is being put aside for marketing and advertising over the next 24 months.

Asics' USA sales exceed US$250 million a year, while Azaleia produces150,000 pairs of shoes per day and has a gross turnover of around R$638 million.