Adidas’ resurgence jolts industry, shows no signs of slowing down

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PORTLAND — Adidas’ strong financial run continued in its third quarter, with North American sales jumping 23 percent to top $1 billion for the first time.

The German sportswear and sneaker company with its North American headquarters in Portland also is on a tear in China, where sales grew 28 percent. Adidas made a lot of money in the period: Operating earnings for the three months ending in September rose 35 percent to 795 million euros.

The contrast between surging Adidas and its top rival, Oregon-based Nike, is dramatic. Adidas continues to take market share from both Nike and Under Armour.

Mark King, who heads Adidas’ North American operations, said the company is showing no ill effects from the college basketball bribery scandal that erupted in September. An Adidas executive and a company consultant have been charged with bribing high school players to attend Adidas-affiliated universities. Rather, the company doubled its footwear market share in North America, the company said.

Adidas’ growth is more diversified than last year, when the sales of its Originals sneakers — remakes of classic models from the 1970s like the Stan Smith and the Superstar — provided much of the spark. This year, the growth rate of the Originals line has slowed. But the sale of performance running and training shoes have more than made up for the Originals, King said.

The retail world has recognized Adidas’ strength, King said. The biggest retailers — Foot Locker, Dick’s and Finish Line Sports — are all devoting considerably more space to the three-stripes brand. King said the company has added 1,500 “branded spaces” at key retail accounts this year.

In these tumultuous times, as Nike struggles to reinvent itself and the athletic retail sector struggles, some have expected Adidas’ industry-shaking run to taper off. But given the bullish quarter, Adidas said it stood by its recently increased sales and earnings projections for the 2017 financial year.