Following 15 years of management, Adidas has announced intentions to divest the Reebok brand.
Established in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1958 and now headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of its plans to take on Nike, Reebok was acquired by Adidas in 2006 for € 3.1 billion.
As the brand has suffered amid the trend for sports wear and athleisure, which has intensified since the coronavirus pandemic, it is predicted to be sold for less than EUR 2bn (£ 1,7bn).
VF Company, the owner of North Face and Timberland; Anta Sports, the Chinese sportswear firm; and Authentic Brands, the owner of Forever 21, Nine West and Juicy Couture, are thought to be potentially interested parties. Frasers Group's Mike Ashley also has a history of purchasing struggling British labels.
In the middle of the move to operating from home, the successful stock market debut of bootmaker Dr Marten's and a much-touted future selling of German sandal designer Birkenstock have raised the demand for comfortable footwear brands.
Rumours have been circling since the autumn that Adidas and Reebok were going to part company.
In November, Adidas said Reebok sales fell 20% in the nine months to 30 September, a slightly faster pace than the group’s core brand, as the company was forced to close stores during lockdown.
Adidas had wiped hundreds of millions off the value of Reebok on its books in 2018, giving it an accounting value of €800m, after admitting that the brand’s earning potential had been overestimated.
Adidas said it had completed an assessment of “strategic alternatives” for Reebok as part of a five-year strategy under which it intended to focus its efforts to strengthening the Adidas brand.
“The long-term growth opportunities in our industry are highly attractive, particularly for iconic sports brands,” said the chief executive of Adidas, Kasper Rørsted.
“After careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that Reebok and Adidas will be able to significantly better realize their growth potential independently of each other. We will work diligently in the coming months to ensure a successful future for the Reebok brand and the team behind it.”
He said that under the “Muscle Up” plan that kicked off in 2016, the brand had improved its pace of growth and profitability prospects