Adidas CEO Comments on Kanye West After Yeezy Fallout – Billboard

Adidas CEO Comments on Kanye West After Yeezy Fallout – Billboard

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Adidas’ once glorious partnership with Kanye West turned sour, then legal, and unfolded as a headache of enormous proportions when the rapper made antisemitic comments on social media and in interviews.

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Almost a year after the German sportswear company cut ties with Ye, its CEO has no hard feelings.

Bjørn Gulden, the Norwegian CEO of Adidas, shared his thoughts on West and the background to that very public fallout for a recent podcast.

Noting that Kanye’s relationship with Adidas pre-dated his own appointment to the top job on Jan. 1, 2023, Gulden remarked, “I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world, both in music and what I would call street culture. He’s extremely creative.” And together, both parties created the Yeezy sneakers line “which was very successful.”

Putting creativity to one side, Ye “made some statements which wasn’t that good,” Gulden continued. “That caused (Adidas) to break that contract and withdraw the product. Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said and I don’t think he’s a bad person, it just came across that way.”

Speaking with Nicolai Tangen, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management, for the In Good Company podcast, Gulden said those remarks “meant we lost that business, one of the most successful collabs in history. Very sad. But again, when you work with third parties that can happen. It’s part of the game. That can happen with an athlete, with an entertainer. It’s part of the business.”

Adidas cut ties with Ye last October, raising questions about the fate of 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) worth of unsold Yeezys. At Adidas’ annual shareholders meeting in May of this year, Gulden revealed that Adidas would try to sell part of the remaining Yeezy inventory and “donate money to the organizations that help us and were harmed by what Ye said.”

By ending its association with Ye, Adidas took a bath. The split contributed to a loss of 600 million euros ($655 million) in sales for the last three months of 2022, helping drive the company to a quarterly net loss of 513 million euros. Adidas reported 400 million euros ($441 million) in lost sales at the start of 2023.

Gulden, formerly CEO of rival sneaker specialist Puma, succeeded Kasper Rorsted at the helm of Adidas, who was in charge of the business from 2016 until his departure November 2022. 

Watch the interview in full below.

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