By  on November 22, 2005

NEW YORK — Adidas-Salomon AG has tapped company insider Rob Langstaff to be the new president of Adidas America, a critical job as Adidas completes its acquisition of Reebok and focuses on building its U.S. business to catch up with rival Nike.

Adidas' strategies seem to be taking root, with signs of a turnaround in its North American business. Sales in North America gained 14 percent to $1.4 billion in the recent nine-month period ended Sept. 30, and accounted for about 23.5 percent of overall sales of $6 billion.

Langstaff, a 14-year veteran of the company, is president of Adidas' Japan subsidiary. He will report to Erich Stamminger, chief executive officer of Adidas America, and will assume some of Stamminger's responsibilities.

Stamminger said Langstaff, 44, will oversee day-to-day operations of the business here, and that he will work closely with Langstaff and still play an "active and highly visible role in the U.S."

"Rob is a great team builder and a great leader," Stamminger said in an interview. "He is excellent at building relationships with retail and also an expert in supply chain."

Stamminger said he didn't anticipate changes in direction or strategy under Langstaff. He declined to say how involved Langstaff will be in Reebok because the deal is not yet completed.

Langstaff could not be reached for comment.

Herbert Hainer, ceo of Adidas AG, said in October that the firm was looking to hire a new senior executive for the U.S. to help Stamminger, who is also the global head of marketing.

The company has had a few managers in recent years at its North American division and has had faced some challenges in its business here over the last five years. Adidas is the world's second-largest athletic company after Nike and had total annual sales of $8.3 billion in 2004.

Langstaff, an American who is an avid runner and who speaks three languages, joined Adidas in 1991 as a manager in the track and field category, directing the company's efforts in the design and development of footwear worn at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. He holds a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and an MBA from Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany. He has worked extensively in Europe and Asia for Adidas. Stamminger noted Monday that the company's Japanese business has flourished under Langstaff's tenure.The company didn't name a successor for Langstaff, however, Christophe Bezu, head of the Asia/Pacific region for Adidas, will continue to have overall responsibility for the region.

Adidas has been making other significant moves to shore up its business. It recently sold its Salomon ski business for $624 million to Finnish firm Amer Sports Corp.

The company also has sought new ways to grow its core band by working on collaborative lines with designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney, as well as musician Missy Elliott. On the marketing front, the firm has events planned around the World Cup soccer tournament in 2006, which it sponsors, and also is aggressively growing its golf business.

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