Casual clothing and sports apparel maker Quiksilver Inc on Wednesday posted a 412 per cent jump in fourth quarter net income to $12.1 million from $2.3m in the year-ago period on the back of soaring sales.

The California-based firm said net sales for quarter to October 31 increased 14.6 per cent to around $195m from $170.1m in 2001, with full-year sales up 13.8 per cent to $700m and full-year net income up 34.2 per cent to $37.5m from $28m last year.

Chairman and CEO Robert McKnight commented: "Our strong performance during the quarter was an extremely gratifying way to end a record year for our company.

"These results represent our fourth consecutive quarter in which we exceeded expectations, and we look forward to building on our strong momentum as we enter 2003.

"Our recently announced merger with Ug Manufacturing Co Pty Ltd and Quiksilver Japan KK, which is expected to close in the next few days, will allow us to consolidate global control over our wholesale business and unify the brand under one powerful operating force," he added.

"At the same time, the transaction provides us with multiple, synergistic avenues for future growth and the opportunity for further efficiencies in operations and sourcing.

"We also continued to boost our retail presence during the year by opening 26 full-priced company-owned stores as well as acquiring Beach Street, the owner and operator of 26 Quiksilver outlet stores.

"This deal further cemented our control over our brands and our distribution and enables us to capture some incremental gross margin."

Separately on Wednesday, Quiksilver announced it has signed current British Open Champion golfer Ernie Els to a five-year endorsement agreement for its Fidra Golf apparel line.