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Adidas CEO Says Trump Can’t Stop Brand’s U.S. Growth

Adidas’ newly minted CEO, Kasper Rorsted, has come out of the gate swinging.

Rorsted today tackled a host of trending topics — including President-elect Donald Trump’s trade rhetoric and Adidas’ rapid growth amid stiff competition from Nike and Under Armour — when he sat down with CNBC’s Julia Chatterley at the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos, Switzerland.

The former head of consumer-goods maker Henkel AG & Co. — who became CEO of Adidas in October — said he’s bullish on the brand that he now leads, despite the incoming president’s protectionist rhetoric.

I don’t think that the new president will do anything to prevent our growth,” Rorsted said, noting that Adidas boasts 30 percent revenue growth in North America in the first nine months of the fiscal year. “I think the consumers will demand the products, and we see a huge opportunity in our product line, but also through the conversion into a much more digital marketing environment.”

Trump ruffled feathers in December when he doubled down on comments he made via Twitter, stating that he would impose a 35 percent tariff on the imports of firms that move their production outside of the U.S.

Asked about the prospect of an import tax, Rorsted maintained his optimistic posturing on the company, stating that he did not believe such a tax would have a “particular impact” on Adidas.

If [an] import duty will come, it will hurt the entire industry,” the Adidas chief said. “But I do believe Mr. Trump is a businessman, and I don’t think that it is in his interest to punish consumers for buying the right products in the U.S. markets, and also those of our competitors.”

On the topic of competition from athletic giant Nike and rising athletic brand Under Armour, Rorsted said Adidas is “ready to fight.”

We respect [Under Armour] as a competitor [but] we have had by far the highest growth rate in the industry this year,” he said. “So we believe very strongly, with the products that we have, with the heat our brand has right now has, and the growth we’re getting in the U.S., that we are very well positioned to have a very ride for [the] long term.”

Rorsted’s comments sent Adidas’ stock climbing today. As of 11:20 a.m. ET, the firm’s shares had gained 3.5 percent, to $150.80 euros.

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