Adidas AG’s Kasper Rorsted doesn’t yet know how much his employees will keep working from home in the years to come, but he’s pretty sure those at other companies will start resembling his sportswear-clad staff.
“It’s going to be very difficult to persuade people that have been sitting at home in flip flops and a jogging suit to get into brown shoes and a normal suit,” the chief executive officer of the German company said on a call with reporters Friday, reports Bloomberg.
Rorsted is predicting that the world’s back-to-the-office trend, however big it becomes, will only accelerate the acceptance of more casual clothing in the corporate world. That could sustain the boom in demand for sneakers and sports apparel that’s benefited Adidas and rivals including Nike Inc. and Puma SE over the past year.
An increased focus on public health, and people eager to leave their homes after months in lockdown, should propel a long-term boost for Adidas’s running sneakers and hiking gear, he said. “There might be a slight slowdown on the sandals, but in the bigger picture, that will be minuscule,” he said.
What about Adidas’s staff, which already had some freedom to work from home before the pandemic? The US team is still working from home right now, along with employees in Europe, according to the Bloomberg report. In China, everyone is back in the office. Decisions will depend on local safety conditions and regulations, the CEO said.
“The question is, is it the best to work from home?” he said. “We will be discussing with our employees throughout the second part of the year and early next year to figure out what is the right long-term solution.”
Starting late March, Adidas sales fell “significantly” in China both online and in stores, though demand has been picking up “slowly but steadily” in recent weeks, Rorsted said. It’s too soon to say how much the boycotts will hurt second-quarter earnings, but Rorsted expects a “very, very strong” year in China, states the Bloomberg report.
“We have, to the extent possible, engaged in dialogue with them in a respectful way, respecting their tradition and culture,” Rorsted said of Chinese consumers. “That has initially been somewhat constrained because of where the situation was, but it is more normalizing now.”