Hi-Tec has reported an 8 percent increase in footwear sales in the U.K. and the rest of Europe for the first nine months of 2009, driven by the outdoor category, whose sales grew by 23 percent over the period thanks to its new “Ion-Mask” technology.

The star model in the line, the “V-Lite Altitude Ultra,” will book global sales of 250,000 pairs this year. Heavily advertised, this single style has come to represent the bulk of the Ion Mask range, whose total deliveries were planned at 300,000 pairs.

It has also allowed the company to raise its price points and to open some 60 new accounts, especially in the U.K. The Cotswold Outdoor chain has become a new client. New relations have been formed with key independent retailers such as Landmark in the Cotswolds, Surf Mountain in Belfast and The Great Outdoors in Dublin. Former clients such as Nevisport and Tiso have ordered more.

Hi-Tec is also making some strides with its outdoor collection in Continental Europe. In particular, the brand is performing well in the Netherlands through its new local distributor, Anton Holland.

Looking to the spring/summer 2010 season, Hi-Tec is enjoying strong demand for the new “Altitude 4” product and other styles, some of which use vegetal tanning and recycled rubber. Forward orders of outdoor shoes, which now contribute more than half of the company’s total wholesale turnover of about $240 million a year, are up by 35 percent.