Three of the industry’s biggest brands have announced changes at the top.
Faced with ongoing change in retail, the impact of technology on their respective businesses, and a global business where key international markets have more growth potential than a mature North America, Nike, Under Armour and Adidas all announced key changes to their executive suites last week. In aggregate, the moves suggest dynamic shifts are underfoot in the trio’s strategies and transforming corporate cultures for 2020 and beyond.
On the same day that Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank announced he is handing his title and its responsibilities to COO Patrik Frisk, Nike disclosed that 14-year CEO Mark Parker will move to an executive chairman role in January and hand the Swoosh’s CEO reins to board member and longtime tech executive John Donahoe, current CEO of ServiceNow. Meanwhile, at adidas AG, Eric Liedtke, 52, the U.S. citizen who has worked for The Three Stripes for 25 years and is credited with developing the company’s current, five-year ‘Creating the New’ business strategy, is departing the company and its Supervisory Board on Dec. 31.
Various reports last week suggested the Parker move at Nike had more to do with the Swoosh’s desire “to accelerate its digital transformation” and become a full-fledged vertical retailer, something that does not bode well for many of its current wholesale partners in Europe, and less about the brand’s recent troubles related to a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by former employees or the doping scandal centered on longtime brand endorser Alberto Salazar.
Frisk, a 30-year retail veteran who once spearheaded Timberland, has overseen Under Armour’s operational renovation for the past 30 months. As CEO, he must continue to grow the brand’s international presence and implement strategies that will help the brand grow in North America, its home and largest market while deciding whether to adhere to a performance-only mentality.
In other executive moves last week,