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Adidas, Reebok Tap Two For Executive Promotions

Adidas Salomon AG and Reebok International each promoted executives as they ready for their merger, expected to be approved later this month.

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Adidas Salomon AG and Reebok International each promoted executives Monday as they ready for their pending merger, expected to be approved by Adidas shareholders later this month.

Adidas said 22-year company veteran Erich Stamminger would become president and chief executive officer of the Adidas brand, a new post, while Reebok named company insider Paul Harrington as president and ceo of its Reebok brand.

Stamminger most recently headed global marketing and served as president and ceo of Adidas’ U.S. division. He reports to Herbert Hainer, the group’s chairman and ceo, and all global functions and regional heads of the Adidas brand will now report to Stamminger, the company said.

Adidas has been planning for this transition. In November, Rob Langstaff was appointed president of Adidas America, and he will continue to oversee the division’s day-to-day operations, reporting to Stamminger.

“There is no other person in the world that has a better and deeper understanding of the Adidas brand,” Hainer said of Stamminger, 48, who has worked at Adidas since 1983.

He started as head of market research in Germany and was appointed to the German group’s executive board in 1997. Stamminger also is credited with helping turn around the company’s lagging American business in recent years through increased marketing efforts, innovative products and clearer segmentation of the brand in different distribution channels.

A general shareholder meeting is expected to approve the Reebok deal later this month. Adidas also is waiting for the European Commission’s antitrust board to give a stamp of approval. The closing of the Reebok deal will make the firm an $11 billion athletic giant ready to go head-to-head with Nike, and will meld two companies with vastly different corporate cultures.

While industry rumors have circulated that Adidas would move some or all of its American corporate offices near Reebok’s headquarters in Canton, Mass., company executives have denied that and said Adidas will stay based in Portland, Ore., and a company-wide memo went out to all Adidas America employees late last year stating just that. In addition, Adidas will change its corporate name to the Adidas Group starting this spring since it has sold off its Salomon division, according to a company spokeswoman.

At Reebok, Harrington, 44, takes over some of the responsibilities formerly held by Jay Margolis, who left in November 2004. Reebok chairman and ceo Paul Fireman has been overseeing the day-to-day management of the brand since that time.

Adding a new top executive is a sign that Fireman is readying for his eventual departure from the company he has built over the last three decades. Fireman, now 61, told WWD in August that he likely would stay through the transition with Adidas, although he gave no time frame for when he would step down. The deal is lucrative for Fireman, who, along with his wife, will receive more than $650 million from the sale.

Harrington has been with Reebok since 1994, and has held several executive positions at the company, most recently senior vice president of global operations and chief supply chain manager, where he oversaw all regional sales and marketing functions as well as global supply chain management. Prior to joining Reebok, he held senior-level positions at Levi Strauss and Ford Motor Co.

In his new role, he is responsible for the Reebok brand’s business worldwide. The Reebok brand is the company’s largest segment and accounted for $2.44 billion of the company’s overall sales of $2.85 billion in the nine-month period ended Sept. 30. In addition to the core Reebok brand, Reebok International owns labels including Greg Norman and Rockport, and makes product under license.

“Over the years, I have watched Paul evolve into a strong leader,” Fireman said in a statement. “I am confident that his international expertise, leadership skills, extensive industry experience and unwavering commitment to excellence make him the right choice for the role of president and chief executive officer of the Reebok brand.”

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