Nike CEO says the brand is ‘for China and China’

Nike CEO John Donahoe has offered an emotional defense of his company’s business in China, months after the world’s largest sportswear brand was entangled in a backlash from consumers over its earlier statements on Xinjiang.

“Nike is a brand from China and China,” Donahoe said Thursday in response to a question from an analyst about the competition Nike has faced from other brands in the region.

In March, Chinese state media circulated A statement a month ago from Nike expressed concern about reports of forced labor in Xinjiang. Over a million Uyghurs It is known that he was arrested In the western region which produces more than four-fifths of China’s cotton.

The re-emergence of Nike’s statement drew criticism from celebrities, including then-pop star and Nike brand ambassador Wang Yibo, who said he was severing ties with the sportswear maker. Permit On Nike’s website it says it does not export any products or supplies from the region.

Shares of Chinese sports brands that rival Nike in the region, including Li Ning and Anta Sports, rose at first In early April amid a backlash against Western brands, including Swedish fashion chain H&M.

In financial results released Thursday, Nike reported sales in Greater China of $1.9 billion for the three months ended May 31, up 17 percent from the same period in 2020.

For the company as a whole, revenue doubled to $12.3 billion for the quarter, helping it swing to a profit of $1.5 billion, up from $709 million loss A year ago in the trough of the pandemic. Nike shares rose 14 percent in after-hours trading in New York.

Donahoe attributed the company’s success in China in part to its decades-old investment. “We’ve been in China for over 40 years,” he said, a connection established by Phil Knight, Nike co-founder and former CEO.

Donahoe, who took office in January 2020, spent the early days of his tenure visiting Nike’s China operations. “The company’s biggest asset is consumer equity,” he said[in the brand]. . . It’s real, I saw it in my first week on the job.”

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