NEW YORK — Russell Corp. is ambitious about pumping up its business.

The Atlanta-based activewear firm said in a conference call with analysts Thursday that it wants to grow the Spalding label into a megabrand and expand the company’s overall position in the athletic-performance market.

In addition, Russell plans to double sales and profits of its newly acquired Brooks Sports running division during the next four to five years, and also will pursue other acquisitions.

Russell purchased Brooks this year for about $115 million in cash as part of a strategy to build its portfolio. Russell has been on an acquisition mode in recent years, buying Moving Comfort and Bike Athletic as well as equipment maker American Athletic and Huffy Sports.

The company also said it has long-term plans to achieve annual sales growth of 5 to 7 percent and earnings-per-share gains of about 12 percent beyond 2005. Last year, Russell earnings increased 11.4 percent to $47.9 million, while sales grew 9.4 percent to $1.3 billion.

Russell said its Spalding division has signed a deal to expand the brand in China. Kangwei, a division of Guanzhou Ganwei Sports Goods Co., will launch Spalding apparel and footwear in China in June. Additional plans call for Ganwei to open stores selling Spalding apparel, footwear and equipment by the end of 2006, the company said.

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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