Finish Line Report: Vendors Sound Off

Finish Line’s vendor partners reflect on what makes the athletic chain the place to be.

Patrik Nilsson
President, Adidas North America

“Finish Line has been our partner for as long as they’ve been in business, and they’ve always been very fair and very honest. [Five years ago], when we needed to clean up the marketplace, we didn’t see huge growth with them, but in the past few years of trying to target the teenage consumer, we’ve seen double-digit growth. They’re doing a great job of talking about omnichannel, and they’re perceived as a leader of creating an environment with all available tools.”

Matt Germaine
Global sales creator, Android Homme

“They are people of their word. Everything [the Finish Line team] offered us, they’ve executed. [To introduce the AH diffusion line, we] looked at which of the big guys was most successful in launching independent brands. Finish Line seemed to be the only one that had a formula to get it done. We started in January with a test in 50 select doors. We’ve had success with some styles, and some styles didn’t sell, but we’re selling the most shoes we’ve ever sold.”

Robert Nand & Robert Brack
President; VP of sales, Creative Recreation

RB: “Their team has been terrific, and that’s why we decided to work with them. Sam [Sato] and their buying team really played a significant role.”
RN: “[As a new brand to them], they were really supportive and understanding that this is new to us just like it was new to them. They were really helpful. There hasn’t been pressure to grow [from the test accounts] overnight, it’s more like, let’s make sure we figure it out before we take it to the next level.”

Uli Becker
President, Reebok International

“Beyond our extraordinary business partnership, we have a very unique relationship with Finish Line. Reebok and Finish Line share values in terms of employee value and the culture we want to exist within our brands. When we adopted our new fitness initiative here at Reebok, Finish Line wanted to learn more about it and experience it, and we have since collaborated to help bring this initiative and culture to their employees. Finish Line wants to know what drives us and [to] truly understand our brand, and we strive for the same understanding, which has led to outstanding collaboration over the years. They are truly one of our most valued partners.”

Barney Waters
VP of marketing, Palladium

“We just started with them this year, so we’re a new brand for them, and in spring ’12, we were just starting to dip our toe into the broader consumer market. [Finish Line was who we wanted to] partner with in that expansion because it has a major reach, but it’s also a desirable environment in terms of brand adjacencies, their digital presence and their brick-and-mortar locations. I admire their drive to bring in a new brand like ours and to continue to push things forward. Some people wouldn’t want to build brands, they’d just want ready-made brands to be delivered, whereas in our case, Finish Line is working with us and it’s paying off for both parties.”

Jay Piccola
President, Puma North America

“We’ve been dealing with Finish Line since before I arrived in 1997. They had 220 doors back then — or something in that zone — but many of the cultural positive experiences and things they tried to put into place back then still exist today. I go way back with David Klapper and Alan Cohen, in particular. I know how they started, how hard they worked, and it’s a pleasure to see their success. And I applaud them because they really tried to help us over the years to become a better company and a better brand.”


“From our perspective, they’re a premium distributor within the mall. Their environments and how they display product — they do it extremely well, and we can show off [our brand] in the way we want to be shown. While we primarily [have played] in the fashion hiking business, they’re very supportive to try new things and they’re very supportive of Timberland’s desire to build a year-round business.”

Jill Kim
CEO, Vlado

“[The Finish Line organization has] great people to work with. The buyers have a great work ethic and they [want] to work things out and assist us to build a brand in their doors. We’ve been in their doors for nearly three years, and we launched our first women’s line with them last holiday. We worked together to create the styles, and as it’s been successful, we’ll be developing more SKUs and expanding the women’s line. I’m thankful for them [being willing to] test new projects with us.”