New Liverpool kit brand Nike posts $790m loss for three months to end-May

By David Owen

June 30 – Sports footwear and apparel giant Nike swung heavily into loss in its March-to-May 2020 quarter, reflecting the impact of Covid-19.

The Oregon-based company, which is about to take over from New Balance as Premier League champions Liverpool’s kit supplier for the 2020-21 season, said its fourth quarter results were “significantly impacted by physical store closures” across the globe.

It said product shipments to wholesale customers were down “nearly 50%”, resulting in lower total revenue and higher inventory.

However, in line with an upsurge of ecommerce generally, Nike’s digital business was said to be accelerating “in every market”.

All told, the net loss for the three months to May 31 reached $790 million, compared with net income of $989 million a year earlier.

Revenues plunged by 38% from $10.18 billion to $6.31 billion.

Meanwhile, in a development that may be of direct concern to sports organisations, Nike said that what it refers to as “demand creation expense” dipped 19% to $823 million, “as retail and brand marketing spend was shifted as sporting events were cancelled or delayed due to Covid-19”.

On a more positive note, the company said that, as of June 25, “approximately 90%” of Nike-owned stores were open worldwide, with retail traffic improving week-over-week.

There is also anecdotal evidence of an upturn in running activity during lockdown, while recreational team sports have been on hold – a trend from which Nike and other running shoe and apparel manufacturers will presumably hope to draw benefit in future, particularly if it is sustained as lockdowns ease,

President and chief executive John Donahoe said the company was “continuing to invest in our biggest opportunities, including a more connected digital marketplace”. Digital sales were said to have increased by 75% in the most recent quarter, accounting for around 30% of overall revenue.

Donahoe served notice in early February, following a visit to China, that sales and production there had been affected by measures introduced to prevent the spread of the virus.

Donahoe has been in his current position only since January.

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