The no 2 US maker of athletic shoes, Reebok International Ltd, today said third quarter net income rose 27 per cent to $53 million, compared with $42 million last year.

Despite a sluggish consumer market, Paul Fireman, chairman and chief executive officer said: "Our US apparel business had a sales increase in the quarter of 30 per cent. Both Reebok branded apparel and our sports licensing product are performing well at retail. Retailer and consumer demand for our sports licensed product continues to exceed our expectations."

For the company as a whole, net sales for the third quarter of 2002 were $912 million, an increase of 8 per cent on the $847 million recorded in 2001. For the Reebok Brand, worldwide sales in the third quarter increased 9 per cent to $768 million. In the US, sales of the Reebok Brand were up 12 per cent to $399 million. Sales for the Rockport subsidiary dropped to $105 million from  $108 million last year.

Worldwide inventories at 30 September 2002 totalled $410 million compared to $433 million in the 2001 third quarter, a decline of $23 million or 5 per cent.

The Company currently estimates that sales for the fourth quarter of 2002 will increase in the range of 8-11 per cent over the prior year.