The stock market success has blended Adidas’ problems

Kasper Rorsted

Adidas intoxicated itself and the stock market under the sporty CEO.

(Photo: dpa)

Every company operates on two levels. One shows numbers and odds visible to everyone. This is where the strength of the balance sheet artists comes into play. The other level is often hidden from the public. It reflects the true talents of a board of directors to align a company sustainably and to live values. That is the art of leadership.

In the case of the sports group Adidas, it is becoming increasingly clear that level one has worked so intensively in an exuberant profit-making mood that level two has been affected. Under the sporty CEO Kasper Rorsted, Adidas intoxicated itself and the stock exchange.

When the company reported almost two billion euros in surplus for 2019, “Manager Magazin” felt confirmed that it had chosen the jeans sneaker hoodie man as “Manager of the Year”.

In the economic steel bath of the corona crisis, however, the hype of the large numbers gave way to a sobering look at the group. Suddenly, faux pas followed faux pas in the services offered. It started with the defiant, later revised announcement not to pay rent for stores.

This was followed by a shameless take on the KfW public loan of 2.4 billion euros – and ended with misdirections in the US racism debate. Only after protests by the “Black Lives Matter” movement did it become apparent that Adidas USA relied too much on white.

If you could still catch this PR-GAU with a quota of 30 percent for blacks and Latinos with new hires, the resignation of HR manager Karen Parkin is the next blow to the office. Adidas no longer has a wife on the board.

Parkin described the debate about racism as “noise” in 2019. Even, of course, you don’t have a racism problem. One thing is certain: Adidas has an image and perception problem. The company, which believed in further profit explosions, confidently bought back its own shares for EUR 250 million in mid-March. Love can make you blind – even love for ever glaring stock market records.

More: Bitter farewell to Adidas manager Karen Parkin


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