Foot Locker CEO Dick Johnson Is Tired of People Overreacting to Sound Bites

Dick Johnson wants us to stop overreacting to sound bites.

“One person sounding off can create a tsunami,” the chairman, president and CEO of Foot Locker said. “In some cases, that might be good. But in other cases, the tsunami blows by things without people understanding the facts. I wish people did more research and were more fact-based and not hysteria-based.”

Johnson also told FN his strategy for Foot Locker isn’t changing in 2018. “We’re focused on the customer — the customer is the center of what we do. That will continue be elevated. We’re [emphasizing] long-term growth and doing things to support youth and sneaker culture around the globe. Strategically, we stay pretty in sync.”

The specialty athletic retailer — which recently appeared to be slowing down after two years of blockbuster growth — reported in November that third-quarter earnings were significantly better than expected. During the quarter, the retailer cut corporate and division staff in a move to weather industry hardships.

While it was a very important step in keeping us headed in the right direction on this journey through the turbulence that defines the retail industry today, it was also a very difficult and painful step,” Johnson said of the staff reduction, although he did not give specific numbers. “It was hard to see people who have contributed a great deal to the company leave the business.”

At the time, Johnson further hinted that the retailer was planning more aggressive moves. “With the disruption we are witnessing in retail in general, in the athletic industry more specifically, we will have to make many critical decisions as we shape our future.”

What keeps the CEO inspired? “The power of youth culture is such a motivation — making sure we’re active and current in that,” Johnson said. “Probably, as importantly, I stay motivated by the great team I work with. They just have so much energy around serving this customer and finding different ways to engage with the customer. We sell a lot of sneakers but we identify more broadly with sneaker culture more broadly and in general.”

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