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What will be the future of Reebok?

From the farewell of Jean-Raymond Kerb to the passage into the hands of Autenthic Brands Group

What will be the future of Reebok? From the farewell of Jean-Raymond Kerb to the passage into the hands of Autenthic Brands Group

It's news of a few weeks ago the divorce between Reebok and Jean-Raymond Kerb, creative director from October 2020 whose farewell comes as a real lightning bolt. If the founder of Pyer Moss seemed the right name to shake up Reebok, his departure could simply be the consequence of a larger shockwave closely related to the sale of the brand, passed from the hands of adidas to those of Autenthic Brands Group after 15 years in what represents the first step for a commercial and creative revolution that will also pass, according to a rumor of the Boston Globe, for the dismissal of 150 employees.

A radical change that will also pass through the new agreement with JD Group, which will be responsible for the distribution of the brand in over 2,850 stores divided between North America and Europe, and the one signed with New Guards Group, the Italian olding that owns Palm Angels, Marcelo Burlon, Ambush and Off-White™, for e-commerce operations and wholesale business in Europe. Important news that seem to indicate a rebirth of a brand that for too long has been relegated to a marginal role, as told also by its sales: in 2020 they amounted to only 1.6 billion dollars against the 37 billion of Nike, a sign of a huge gap both economic and of simple weight on the market and on the communities of fans. According to Euromonitor International, the brand holds only 1.1% of the sneaker market, occupying the 16th place, while only 0.3% for clothing, with a 12th place in the ranking.

At the origin of Reebok's decline is the inability to adapt to the times, falling behind not only adidas and Nike, but also brands such as New Balance, the protagonist of an unstoppable rise in recent years. Just the passage under the wing of adidas in 2005 seemed to represent a turning point for the brand, which, following the path of Nike with Michael Jordan, had decided to bet on a series of sports and music stars, choosing names like Dennis Rodman and Jay-Z to create some sneakers in collabo. The results, however, were not what was hoped for, especially because, in an attempt to push sales, the company had increased the availability of its sneakers by bringing them on the shelves of large shopping malls and obtaining the opposite effect to that hoped for.

The same relationship with adidas never managed to turn into the synergy many hoped for, becoming a sibling fight in an attempt to grab the same audience. «I think at the end of the day, the real reason for Reebok's demise was that every decision was made in favor of adidas and that prevented Reebok from growing,» Matt Powell, Sports Senior Industry Adviser for NPD Group, told Retail Dive. In 2001, for example, Reebok had signed a ten-year deal to become the sole sponsor of NBA and NFL teams, giving the brand unprecedented visibility as it would have benefited from two exceptional stages in a deal that, however, after adidas acquired the brand, fell through in favor of the German brand.

To restart, Reebok has chosen to focus on the creation of new synergies and collaborations capable of taking root on different types of public, from Cardi B to Margiela, bringing the brand to find the appeal now lost for some time. In this, will be particularly important the contribution of Shaquille O'Neal, shareholder and partner of ABG eager to bring the brand back to its past glory. But starting from scratch, the future of Reebok is all to be written and you can not look only to the past to relaunch a brand that needs, above all, to make a breach in the hearts of Gen Z and all those consumers still looking for something new.