Adidas fights to draw top talent to HQ in sleepy Bavarian town

Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:53am EDT
 
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By Emma Thomasson

HERZOGENAURACH Germany (Reuters) - Adidas (ADSGn.DE: Quote) needs world-class designers, brand experts and technical whizzkids to improve its image against U.S. rival Nike (NKE.N: Quote), but persuading them to move to its headquarters in rural Germany is difficult.

Adidas has been losing market share to the world's biggest sportswear brand Nike, which is seen as far cooler in consumer surveys and is based near the hip U.S. city of Portland, Oregon.

Adidas acknowledges it is hard to recruit at its headquarters near the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, particularly for design, marketing and digital roles, and admits it missed trends in the U.S. market, where Under Armour (UA.N: Quote) has just overtaken it as No. 2 behind Nike. Nike's better than expected earnings on Sept. 25 underscored its ascendancy.

Adidas is responding by locating some key design roles in the United States at the same time as investing heavily in new facilities at its home base near the historic Bavarian town where Adidas was founded by shoe maker Adi Dassler in 1949.

"We need a lot of that top talent that is cutting edge. Ideally, they are working in the tech industry, in marketing organizations or are coming from top competitors. We need an environment that appeals to them," said Steve Fogarty, who is responsible for employer branding and digital recruiting

"Designers tend to gravitate to very large, international cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, London and it is a bit harder to convince them to move to the center of Germany."

Eric Liedtke, the American who took over as Adidas head of global brands in March, has promoted Paul Gaudio to the role of global creative director and moved him from Herzo to the firm's U.S. base in Portland in a bid to turn around its fortunes in the world's biggest market for sporting goods. Close to 1,000 Adidas staff are based in Portland, compared with Nike's 8,500-strong workforce in the area.

Gaudio announced on Wednesday that Adidas will open a small creative studio in New York's Brooklyn district in 2015 to be led by three young footwear designers he has poached from Nike with a mission to explore design direction for the brand.   Continued...

 
Players wearing Puma and Adidas soccer shoes pose before a friendly soccer match between German sports goods firm Puma and German sporting goods maker Adidas in Herzogenaurach, in this September 21, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/Files