Adidas off to a strong start in its marathon effort to catch Nike

A recent campaign included actress Selena Gomez modelling the Adidas NEO collection
ADIDAS sales rose 17 per cent in the first three months of the year, as the world’s second-largest sportswear company began its five-year plan to close the gap on Nike.

Chief executive Herbert Hainer, who faced calls to quit last year, aims to increase yearly sales by almost half, to €22bn (£16.2bn), by speeding up the supply chain and achieving success in the US.

In the three months to the end of March, group sales rose to €4.08bn, up from €3.48bn a year ago. Analysts had forecast €3.91bn, according to a Reuters poll.

Despite a hike in marketing spending, Adidas increased its operating margin by 10 basis points to 8.9 per cent, still far behind the 13 per cent achieved by Nike last year.

But Hainer said the quarterly sales improvement had been broad-based, with strong growth in the running and fashion businesses.

While western Europe and China saw fast growth, Hainer also cited a seven per cent currency-neutral rise in North American sales.

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