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Reebok a performance brand: Adidas

Adidas plans to restore Reebok to its former stature as an innovative performance shoe brand.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 17:24 IST

German athletic shoe maker Adidas-Solomon AG, which just completed its acquisition of Reebok, plans to keep the brands separate and restore the US line to its former stature as an innovative performance shoe, its chief executive said over the weekend.

Speaking at a World Shoe Association forum via satellite from Germany, Adidas Chairman and Chief Executive Herbert Hainer said he was dispelling rumors that the company would position Reebok as an entry-price brand.

"There is no doubt that we will position the Reebok brand more as a performance brand than it has been over the last two or three years," Hainer said.

He added that Reebok, which introduced its "pump" system some 20 years ago, was the first company to bring technology to the athletic shoe market.

"We will keep the brands separate because we do believe both brands have their own identity, their own heritage and their own consumer base," Hainer said.

Rob Langstaff, president of the German company's US operations, likened competition between the two brands, which together with Nike Inc account for 60 per cent of the US athletic shoe market, to sibling rivalry.

"It is like two children in the home, where one is very good at playing soccer and the other is very good at playing basketball and football," Langstaff said. "They share the same infrastructure and cheer each other, but compete at the same time."

Adidas has said the Reebok acquisition was a way to attack Nike, the world's largest athletic shoe maker, on its home turf. Hainer said on Saturday that owning Reebok would allow the company to better connect with the United States' urban consumers as well as gain traction in sports such as American football, basketball and hockey.

Hainer also identified aerobics, classics and basketball shoes as areas with growth potential.

In terms of the overall footwear market in 2006, Hainer said growth would be driven by a combination of fashion and technology.

Referring to the current trend of athletic shoes with slim profiles, Hainer said, "the European fashion will play a role in the US market moving forward over the next 12 to 18 months, but on the other hand, more technological-driven products can make a difference."

Adidas recently launched a so-called "smart" shoe, which has a computer chip in the sole. Even though it sells for $250 retail, Hainer said the company has already sold 100,000 pairs.

"If you bring new technology and new innovative products to market, the consumer will be ready to spend."

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 12:08 IST