Adidas on Thursday said that it had hired a headhunting firm to begin the search for a successor to Herbert Hainer, who plans to step down as the longest-serving chief executive of a German blue chip company in 2017.
The supervisory board hired an executive search firm to find a replacement for 60-year old Mr. Hainer, Adidas’s board’s chairman, Igor Landau, said. The announcement comes a few months after Adidas was forced to issue two profit warnings and some investors began calling for a management change.
“This is a long-term process that will be facilitated by an executive search firm,” Mr. Landau said in a statement.
Adidas disclosed the search after Mr. Hainer sent an email to Adidas employees, confirming a story on the hiring of the headhunter that was first reported in a business magazine, Manager Magazine.
Mr. Landau said the search for a replacement had begun in 2013, and Mr. Hainer’s contract had been renewed until 2017 with a successor in mind. But Thursday’s acknowledgement was the first explicit public confirmation that a successor would replace Mr. Hainer in two years.
“The supervisory board will now start to look for the best possible candidate for my succession, both inside and outside the Adidas group,” Mr. Hainer said in the note to Adidas employees, which was released to the press on Thursday. “This will be a long-term process that has just begun.”
Marc Opresnik, a professor of marketing and management at SGMI Management Institute St. Gallen in Switzerland, said the announcement of plans for Mr. Hainer’s departure was not surprising, after the company’s recent financial struggles.
“Recently, Adidas’s leadership has been criticized strongly, especially by investors,” Mr. Opresnik said. “Also, Mr. Hainer’s current contract runs only until the end of March 2017.”