Since taking over as Adidas chief executive last October, Kasper Rorsted has quickly won investors’ approval. Especially early last month, when the 55-year old Dane raised the company’s medium-term goals, the markets responded enthusiastically. The share price leaped 10 percent within minutes of the announcement. The centerpiece of Mr. Rorsted’s plans was a massive increase in online revenue, raising Adidas’s 2020 target from €2 billion to €4 billion, around $4.27 billion.
But many sports retailers see Mr. Rorsted’s investor-friendly plans as a declaration of war. “It’s a slap in the face for people who, over decades, have made Adidas what it is today,” said one leading manager of an international sports retail chain, who preferred to remain anonymous. Others are speaking out openly. “This means more competition for us,” Markus Rech, head of the Munich-based sports retailer Sport Scheck, said bluntly.
In private, many German retailers are already bitter toward what is by far their most important supplier. They are particularly angry about the steep discounts Adidas offers in its online stores, and complain about delays in delivery that leave yawning gaps on their shelves while the same items can be purchased easily on Adidas’s own websites.