Now the secondary brand within Adidas Group, Reebok struggled with several years of steady decline before finally seeming to find its feet in 2014 with a focus on fitness rather than sport, and more recently on "tough fitness", and also a greater emphasis on women's apparel. At one point in the 1980s it was - briefly - the world's top-selling sports shoe, but its position slipped steadily over the next few decades. Like its rivals, the company felt the pinch from the global shift away from white trainers in the late 1990s. Reebok was a little slower to manage a rebound, despite diversification into other clothing lines, such as Rockport walking shoes and boots. More recently, the group scored a hit with its street-oriented Rbk range which was closely aligned with the rap music and urban fashion markets and in 2005, the company agreed to be acquired by Adidas for around $3.8bn, creating a stronger competitor to leader Nike. Yet despite the best efforts of Adidas the brand suffered fresh declines over the next couple of years, falling behind rival Puma in 2008 to languish in last place among the big four brands. There were, finally, signs of a turnaround from 2009 as a result of the success of new fitness sub-brand Easytone (now Skyscape), and partnerships with CrossFit, UFC, Les Mills training and others. Brand sales for 2017 were €1.8bn, up modestly on the year before, but only a little over a tenth of what the Adidas brand generates. International sales are growing, but in North America performance remains flat or negative. Matt O'Toole is brand president. Though generally regarded as an American brand, Reebok's roots lie in Bolton in the North of England, where shoemaker Joseph Foster was making spiked running shoes at the end of the 19th century. Much later the business was acquired by its North American licensee.
Capsule checked 10th October 2018
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Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Nov 2016: New Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announced plans to restructure the group's second-string brand Reebok in order to improve profitability. Reebok is growing," he said, "but it is growing significantly slower than Adidas and also slower than many competitors. There hasn’t been any growth in Reebok’s home market, North America, the past three years. Profitability is still significantly below the group’s average. Therefore, it is now time to get back to the gym and redouble our efforts." Among other initiatives, he plans to streamline staffing while also establishing a dedicated Reebok sales team. Around half of Reebok's branded outlets will close, and it will also quit its standalone HQ in Canton, Massachusetts. Adidas's North America HQ is in Portland, also home to Nike.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Jan 2015: Ads of the Week "Freak Show". Parent group Adidas is really firing on all cylinders at the moment, creatively at least. This is our fourth consecutive Ad Of The Week selection for either Adidas or Reebok. Unlike that light-hearted chicken spot from a fortnight ago, this one from Venables Bell & Partners focuses on Reebok's harder-edged rep, highlighting its involvement with CrossFit training and the Spartan and Tough Mudder endurance races. The results are very cool indeed. Separately, the group confirmed the $280m sale of Rockport, the casual footwear brand that had been part of the Reebok business. The buyer is private equity firm Berkshire Partners, with backing from rival sportswear company New Balance. A newly independent Rockport Group will combine the existing Rockport brand with New Balance's Drydock casual footwear subsidiary, whose brands are Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham. Drydock's Bob Infantino becomes CEO of the new Rockport Group.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Jan 2015: Ads of the Week "Live Free Range". Struggling sportswear brand Reebok gets its mojo back with this excellent new spot from Venables Bell & Partners. Don't put up with a workout in a gym like a battery farm - it's time to live free range. Great stuff!
Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd Oct 2014: A group of Asian and Middle Eastern investors is proposing to buy the struggling Reebok sportswear brand from current owner Adidas. The acquisition of Reebok in 2005 was designed to enhance Adidas's position in the US market by creating a stronger combined competitor to Nike. However, if anything, the reverse has been true, with Adidas and Reebok falling ever further behind. According to industry watcher SportsOne Source, Nike's share of the US athletic footwear market has soared since 2005 from 35% to 60%. Meanwhile, Reebok has withered from 10% to under 2% and Adidas from 10% to 6%. The €1.7bn offer to acquire Reebok is being led by the billionaire Low family of Hong Kong, with support from funds associated with the Abu Dhabi government.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Mar 2014: Adidas Group unveiled a new positioning for its struggling Reebok subsidiary, repositioning it as a "fitness lifestyle" brand, not as all-round sportswear. Reebok has steadily lost status as a sports brand since it was acquired by Adidas in 2005, especially in the US. However, it has retained credibility in lifestyle areas such as yoga and aerobics, not least through sponsorship of the new style of intense CrossFit training. As a result, the Reebok logo was relaunched this week without the "vector" emblem it has used for the past decade, instead adopting the delta symbol it uses for its joint venture with CrossFit. According to chief marketing officer Matt O'Toole, "The new brand mark signals a clear purpose for our brand [as] a badge for those who pursue a fuller life through fitness. We believe the benefits of an active life go beyond the physical benefits and impacts your whole self and your relationships with others. It is our symbol of change - an invitation to take part, and to unlock your true potential. It's not a logo, it's a symbol, a way of life."
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