adidas is taking a big step in its quest to be the world’s top sports brand with the recent confirmation that it is parting ways with embattled CEO Herbert Hainer. Hainer has been the longest-serving CEO in adidas history, steering the ship since 2001. While Hainer managed to more than double adidas’ sales during his 14-year tenure, the overall growth of adidas still failed to keep pace with its primary competitors. The brand lost significant ground in major markets under his guidance, recently dropping to third in the USA behind Nike and Under Armour. Coupled with the failure of adidas’s fledgling golf division and a series of profit warnings, the writing was on the wall for Hainer as shareholders began calling for a change in leadership.
Hainer has signed an extension with adidas until 2017, during which time he will actively assist in the search for his replacement – the two frontrunners appear to be global brand chief Eric Liedtke and head of sales Roland Auschel. However, in the interest of progress, Hainer’s critics would rather see the CEO gone well before 2017. Ingo Spiech, fund manager for Union Investment (which has a 0.9 percent stake in adidas) says, “A new strategy is only be credible with a new leadership… the sooner Mr. Hainer hands the baton off the a successor, the better.”