Net sales of adidas-Salomon in the first half of 2000 increased by 7 per cent to Euro 2.8bn, growing at a much higher rate than last year. However, the increase was substantially due to currency effects. At constant currency rates, net sales would have been virtually flat year-over-year.

Sales in all three product divisions increased in the first half of the year. This growth was driven by footwear and hardware, which were up 4 and 25 per cent in the second quarter, bringing first half increases to 6 and 32 per cent respectively. The footwear increase was driven by above-average growth in the basketball, soccer and adventure categories. Apparel sales were flat.

Sales for brand adidas in the second quarter were up 2 per cent, which brought sales for the first half to Euro 2.3bn, a 3 per cent increase year-over-year. adidas brand footwear sales in the first half increased by 5 per cent to Euro 1.2bn. adidas Apparel sales were maintained at the previous year's level.

Salomon sales continued to show last year's strong growth, increasing by 27 per cent to reach Euro 154m in the first half year. Particularly high increases of summer product categories were recorded in inline skates and outdoor footwear.

Asia leads the way, growth in Europe continues, North America down

Asia continued to deliver the highest growth rates among the regions, with a net sales increase of 35 per cent for the half year. With sales up 7 per cent, Europe continues to be the core region, representing 51 per cent of total Group sales. In North America, growth rates in the first half of 2000 did not match those of 1999, declining 2 percent.

Gross margin strong despite weak Euro

The gross margin for the first half year was 43.4 per cent, which was achieved despite the impact of the strong US Dollar. This gross margin - which exceeded management's target range of 41 to 43 per cent for the full year - was a result of a better mix of products, a lower rate of clearance sales and increased own-retail activities.

"We are pleased with the progress made in streamlining our business processes, which led to improved efficiency," said adidas-Salomon's COO Herbert Hainer. "To sustain long-term growth for the group, the American market remains a key priority. In addition, our focus now is on driving growth worldwide by defining adidas' product groups more precisely, and on delivering the performance, innovation and heritage image that customers associate with the adidas, Salomon and Taylor Made brands."