MUNICH (Reuters) - The soccer World Cup and next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi will help sportswear sales to recover in 2014 after an unseasonably warm winter hit demand for cold-weather kit in Europe, industry representatives said on Wednesday.
The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), which includes companies such as market leaders Nike, Adidas and Puma, expects growth of between 3.5 percent and 4 percent this year, president Frank Dassler said.
"We can already see that retailers' demand for football products is rising strongly and we expect further growth," Dassler told reporters ahead of next week's ISPO sports trade fair in Munich.
The WFSGI represents companies with turnover of about 200 billion euros ($271 billion), about three quarters of the sportswear industry.
The industry has benefited from a shift to more active lifestyles, prompting faster growth than in the broader apparel industry in recent years. That has also served to increase competition from new players to the market, including fashion retailers H&M, Uniqlo and Gap.
Though the Winter Olympics, starting on February 7, are less likely than the World Cup to have a measurable impact on sales, Dassler said it still helps to raise visibility of products.
European sports retailers are less upbeat after a disappointing 2013, with sales expected to grow by 1-3 percent this year, according to Werner Haizmann, president of European sporting goods federation FEDAS.
"Winter was totally absent. That was a catastrophe," Haizmann said, estimating that European sales fell 4 percent to 36 billion euros in 2013, declining 2 percent in Germany to 7.2 billion euros.
(Reporting by Joern Polz; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by David Goodman)