By  on March 6, 2008

Adidas AG appointed a new chief executive officer for Reebok, as the Canton, Mass.-based brand's performance blemished an otherwise strong fourth quarter for its parent company.

Uli Becker, Reebok's chief marketing officer, will succeed Paul Harrington as president and ceo of the brand, effective April 1.

On Wednesday, Adidas reported fourth-quarter earnings up 63 percent to 21 million euros, or $31 million based on average exchange for the period. Revenues for the quarter were up 14 percent on a currency-neutral basis to 2.4 billion euros, or $3.5 billion, driven by growth in Adidas brand sales but dragged down by a decline in Reebok revenues.

For the fiscal year, net income climbed 14 percent to 551 million euros, or $763 million. Sales for the year, on a currency-neutral basis, grew 7 percent to 10.3 billion euros, or $14.3 billion.

The company's earnings were a tale of two brands, with the larger growing and the smaller stagnating. Adidas brand sales increased 12 percent to 7.1 billion euros, or $9.9 billion, while Reebok sales held flat at 2.3 billion euros, or $3.2 billion. And while Adidas backlogs are at their highest level in a decade, Reebok's are down 8 percent.

Becker came from Adidas, where he served from 1990 until May 2006 when he moved to Reebok, whereas Harrington was a Reebok insider who worked at the U.S. company for almost 12 years, including two at its helm.

As chief marketing officer of Reebok for the last two years, Becker oversaw the brand's global marketing group, which includes product, sport and entertainment marketing. Prior to this role, he was head of global brand marketing for Adidas and managing director of Adidas International B.V. in Amsterdam from 2002 to 2006.

Harrington will move to California to take over as ceo of Easton-Bell Sports Inc., a sports equipment firm, in April. He replaces Anthony Palma. Board member Timothy Mayhew, a managing director of Fenway Partners, the majority shareholder of Easton-Bell, will serve as interim ceo.

Neither could be reached for comment.

Based in Canton, Becker will report to Herbert Hainer, ceo and chairman of Adidas AG in Herzogenaurach, Germany."He [Harrington] played an instrumental role in managing the integration of Reebok into our group and laid the foundations for the repositioning of the Reebok brand worldwide," said Hainer. "Uli Becker's proven leadership and global marketing expertise make him uniquely qualified to take the revitalization of the Reebok brand to the next level, both internationally and in the U.S."

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