Keeping pace: A timeline of two years in athletics retail

January 13 2020 by Cara Salpini for Retail Dive

From major executive departures to innovative store concepts and corporate culture incidents, here are a few of the biggest, recent industry events.


A rollercoaster year in athletics retail was capped off this fall with the departures of Nike CEO Mark Parker and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. Paired with another executive change at Adidas as Eric Liedtke, head of global brands, stepped down, the moves amount to “seismic changes” in the category, according to NPD Vice President and Senior Industry Advisor of Sports Matt Powell.

All three announced their departures over a two-day span in October.

The announcements were defining moments for athletics retail in 2019, but the past two years have also scripted a longer story based on a few key themes. One can be found lurking in ad campaigns and between the lines of a few lower-profile executive departures.

An October 2019 study from First Insight highlighted that 92% of senior retail executives thought consumers would continue to buy from them “even if they created and offered a controversial and offensive product, if they pulled it from the shelves quickly and issued a public apology.” Only 27% of consumers agreed.

Around half of each group agreed having women and minorities in senior leadership positions was important, but the vast majority (75%) of executives did not plan to hire a chief diversity officer. While diversity is not a problem that’s unique to athletics retail, or even retail more broadly, the sector is still plagued by a lack of women in leadership positions, even as they champion themselves as supporters of the demographic.

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consumers  consumer preferences  Chief Diversity Officer  Chief Inclusion Officer  retail missteps  offensive products  CONSUMER REPORT  Senior Retail Executives

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