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Reebok cuts 150 jobs, 65 of them in Canton

Layoffs follow slashing of sales forecast

Reebok faces multiple challenges, including the loss of its contract to Nike to supply National Football League apparel. Above, Tom Brady with the Nike logo on his jersey in 2012 (left) and with the Reebok jersey in 2011.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File

Reebok International Ltd. said Tuesday that it is cutting approximately 65 positions from its Canton headquarters, just under 7 percent of the struggling athletic apparel maker’s workforce there, as part of a restructuring.

Worldwide, Reebok will eliminate 150 jobs, including by closing its European office in Amsterdam and the Asia-Pacific office in Hong Kong. In all, the company has about 8,000 employees.

The layoffs come several months after Reebok’s German parent, Adidas AG, slashed its long-term sales forecast at Reebok from about $3.9 billion in 2015 to $2.6 billion — a larger decline than some analysts had expected.

Reebok is facing multiple challenges, including the loss of its contract to supply National Football League apparel and the ongoing National Hockey League lockout, though company spokesman Dan Sarro said the layoffs are not related to Reebok’s relationship with ­either league.


In September, the company made broad organizational changes to sharpen its focus on developing and selling fitness products, and dumped the position of global president as part of a management shake-up.

As part of the changes unveiled Tuesday, the company said it will shut down regional offices and charge its global team with managing worldwide business from Canton. Some workers at regional offices will transfer to the Canton headquarters, which employed about 1,000 people before Tuesday’s job cuts.

“While I am convinced Reebok will emerge a stronger ­organization and ultimately a more desirable brand for our fitness lifestyle consumer following today’s announcement, this is a difficult day for all of us,” Matt O’Toole, Reebok’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Adidas, after taking over Reebok more than six years ago, has been unable to spark a turnaround of the brand, whose US retail market share fell from nearly 8 percent in 2005 to 4.6 percent in 2011, ­according to SportsOne Source, a sporting goods industry research firm in Charlotte, N.C.


Reebok last made significant workforce reductions in 2009, when it laid off about 300 employees, including 112 in Massachusetts. At the time, Reebok employed about 1,700 people in the state.

Though none of Tuesday’s layoffs were in Reebok’s licensed­ apparel division, the company’s overall financial health has suffered since Nike supplanted Reebok as the NFL’s supplier of onfield uniforms and maker of official NFL gear for fans.

Matt Powell, an analyst at SportsOne Source, said Reebok generated about $250 million in NFL product sales last year — down from a peak of about $500 million.

“That’s money they can’t replace,” Powell said. “Their business has been tough. Anytime your business isn’t good, you have to pull expenses back to get in line.”

Nike won the NFL contract in 2010 by offering the league $1.1 billion over five years, a deal that took effect this season. Reebok paid $250 million over 10 years for the same rights.

Reebok remains the NHL’s partner for uniforms and fan apparel, but Powell estimated the company’s pro hockey business is down about 50 percent because of a labor dispute between franchise owners and players that already has wiped out a third of the season.

Increasingly, Reebok is positioning itself more as a maker of fitness gear. In 2010, the company signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with CrossFit Inc., the designer of a popular fitness regimen.

In an announcement made separately from its layoff notice on Tuesday, Reebok opened a contest in which fitness buffs can post their workout photos on Twitter, using the hashtag #getafterit.


The top vote-getter in online balloting will win a $500 Reebok gift certificate, and nine runners-up will get T-shirts.

But Reebok’s rebranding process has at times been rocky.

Last year, the company agreed to refund $25 million to consumers who had bought the company’s EasyTone shoes, after­ the Federal Trade Commission sued Reebok. The commission alleged that the company’s claims about the shoes’ ability to strengthen and tone women’s legs and buttocks were unsubstantiated.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jennabelson.
Callum Borchers can be reached atcallum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter