Home Adidas sales Shaq on owning Reebok with ABG, 2021 FNAA Company of the Year – Footwear News

Shaq on owning Reebok with ABG, 2021 FNAA Company of the Year – Footwear News

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On November 30, Authentic Brands Group will be honored as Company of the Year at the 35th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the November 29 print issue of the magazine about the company’s whirlwind year of acquisitions and investments.

From buying Reebok to launching the IPO process, Authentic Brands Group has generated non-stop buzz in 2021. The Retail Powerhouse, led by CEO Jamie Salter and President and Marketing Director Nick Woodhouse , recently secured a pair of major new investors with his knack for reviving struggling yet iconic brands like Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, Forever 21, JCPenney and Barneys New York. But in August, ABG arguably landed the biggest shoe deal of the year with the purchase of Reebok from Adidas.

FN visited the company headquarters in New York to discuss the deal with Salter, where he was joined by former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. The sports icon became ABG’s second-largest shareholder after selling the rights to his eponymous brand in 2015. A keen negotiator himself, O’Neal has helped ABG target brands with high turnaround potential. In the case of Reebok, the former athlete insisted that the company make a competitive bid to acquire the shoe brand from Adidas.

When it comes to selecting a profitable investment, Salter told FN that “brands have to have heartbeats.” This mindset has set ABG on a path to brand dominance in 2021, and negotiators have no plans to slow down anytime soon.

Here, Salter and O’Neal to chat with FN about the company’s successes this year and their vision for the future.

Thinking back to 2021, what do you think ABG has accomplished?

Jamie Salter: “The team has worked incredibly hard over the past 12 months, and Shaquille and I are incredibly proud of all the people at ABG who make this happen every day. Without this team, we wouldn’t be the Company of the Year.

Shaquille O’neal: “I came here because I saw the family farm – I saw [Jamie], I saw his sons, I saw the passion. I wanted to partner with a company that maybe could keep my name forever. I have met a lot of businesses, but when I met Jamie and his family I knew this was the right place to go. He’s a great leader, he’s not a micromanager. He never sleeps. I can call him at any time. He’s the only man in business – and I’ve been in business with a lot of people – where when I say, “Jamie, can you do that for me,” he does. If we weren’t the Company of the Year I’d be surprised because I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as Jamie Salter and the ABG team.

Salter: “There is one more person who works as hard as me, if not more than me. They always say Shaq is the hardest working person in showbiz, and that is absolutely true. This man works early in the morning, late at night, never says no, and he’s always there for his fans, for his family and for all of his business partners.

What makes the business successful?

Salter: “Making ABG what it is today is a question of family values. It runs through the whole organization. We believe in the family. The most important part of ABG is having a good time every day. My theory is that if you have a lot of fun, you will probably be very successful in business. Money is just a dashboard.

O’Neal: “The environment here is definitely worthy of a championship. We are having a lot of fun. I am proud to consider myself the ambassador of pleasure. I am 49 years old and in my continuing days on this earth I just want it to be fun for people, people to smile and make people happy.

How did the Reebok deal come about?

O’Neal: “In 1992, when I signed with Reebok, Nike was the giant and Reebok was there. We were very close. They had Michael Jordan, who was the better player. But Reebok had a top player. Then I saw that Reebok was moving away and a lot of other brands were going up. And being that I’m a partner with [Jamie] – the brand master and the renovator, the guy who does magic – I said to him, “I think you should buy Reebok. And he looked at me to make sure I was serious. He didn’t say anything, he just bowed his head and said “OK”. And then a few months pass, [I said], ‘I need you to get Reebok.’ He never said no. And then one day I didn’t even think about it and he said, ‘I have a big surprise for you. I’ll send you something. I want you to sign it. Don’t look at it, sign it. So I signed it. He said: ‘Congratulations, my friend, we own Reebok.’ And it was one of the best days of my life. I want to make Reebok important again because we were there. We were so close.

Salter: “To really understand why we bought Reebok, it’s all about Shaq. There were people all over the world bidding on Reebok. In fact, we were kicked out of the process somewhere. I called Shaq and said, ‘How bad [do you want this]? ‘ And he said, ‘I want this one. Don’t lose it. ‘ So I made a new offer. We got back into the process and we won and we beat some of the biggest private equity firms in the world. “

How are you going to bring Reebok to the top?

Salter: “Reebok has never been broken. Adidas bought Reebok and everything that went well at Reebok became Adidas. It didn’t matter if they were players or athletes. They took everything from Reebok and gave it to Adidas. And Reebok fell. But all of these great people still exist at Reebok. Basically, we said to the employees: show us what you want to do. Tell us what you want to do.
Reebok’s business for 2022 will be up more than 20%. The company will have more than $ 5 billion in global retail sales in 2022. And in 2023, it will be significantly more than that. Our goal is to bring Reebok to $ 10 billion in annual retail sales worldwide over the next five years. And we are very confident that we will get there, not only on the footwear side, but also on the clothing side. Digital activity will grow three times over the next 24 months. We will sell a lot of Shaq basketball shoes. But more importantly, we’re going to have a great time while we do it. People say, “Oh, you’re chasing Adidas” or “You’re chasing Nike. We are not going after Adidas, we are not going after Nike. We are going after having built a great brand.

What’s next for ABG?

Salter: “ABG is just getting started. We are in the second round. The world is big and we think we can just keep growing this business. For me, brands must have heartbeats. Reebok has a heavy heartbeat. Barneys has a heartbeat. Sports Illustrated has a heartbeat. A lot of people see income, but income is income. If he doesn’t have a heartbeat, it is very difficult to revive him and bring him back. Do you have a heartbeat? You can bring it back.

O’Neal: “We are looking to grow, we are looking to grow, we are looking to continue to excite people and have fun. This is the whole story. When you ask what the future holds, if we just keep doing what we do, changing people’s lives and delivering great products, the sky is the limit for this business.

For 35 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards – often referred to as the “Shoe Oscars” – have celebrated fashion stars, top brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talent and industry veterans. The 2021 event is supported by main sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Authentic Brands Group, FDRA, Informa, On and Wolverine Worldwide.

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