Despite the global economic downturn, athletic footwear and apparel maker ASICS America Corp. continued to outpace expectations for the fiscal 2008 year, with a 20% increase in sales to $510 million over the previous year.

“Our running category is growing even in these tough times,” said Rich Bourne, President and COO, ASICS America. “We have strong brand recognition, excellent product and we are performing well at retail. These are all strong indicators that we have a sound strategy in place, and despite the challenges of the economy, are continuing to build a strong platform for continued growth in the future.”

ASICS America’s running business in particular was strong, posting an 11% increase for the year to date. Growth was led by top-selling performance running styles including the GT-2140, GEL-Nimbus and GEL-Kayano. Women’s running also continued to be a main driver of growth.

According to the NPD Group/Point Of Sale Tracking Service, as of end of May 2009, ASICS was up 20.5% in dollars over last year and ranked number two (in dollars) among all running footwear brands.

In addition to the domestic growth, ASICS America’s Brazilian subsidiary continued to benefit from a strong performance brand position resulting in high double-digit growth over the last year.

ASICS America’s growth has contributed no less to the overall financial growth of parent company ASICS Corp. in Kobe, Japan, which posted a 7% increase (in yen) in net consolidated revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31.

Expectations for 2009 are also positive, with earnings rising to a range of 6-7% for the first half of the year, and about 8% for the entire year.