As it forges ahead with an intense focus on its Consumer Direct offense strategy, Nike will no longer sell to nine major wholesale accounts, according to Susquehanna Financial Group.
Analyst Sam Poser said in a note this afternoon that according to the company’s “proprietary checks,” Nike will cut ties with Belk, Dillard’s, Zappos, Boscov’s, Bob’s Stores, Fred Meyer, EBLens, VIM and City Blue.
“Nike’s decision to no longer sell to nine multi-branded wholesale accounts is positive for Nike, as it takes control of more of its own destiny,” Poser wrote.
While not directly confirming the moves, the company sent the following statement to FN: “Nike has a bold vision to create the marketplace of the future, one closely aligned with what consumers want and need. As part of our recently announced Consumer Direct Acceleration strategy, we are doubling down on our approach with Nike digital and our owned stores, as well as a smaller number of strategic partners who share our vision to create a consistent, connected and modern shopping experience.”
In its fourth-quarter conference call in June, Nike said that it had begun the Consumer Direct Acceleration phase as part of its Consumer Direct Offense initiative, which was unveiled three years ago.
Nike plans to ramp up investments in e-commerce and technology, as well as simplify its “consumer construct” of men’s, women’s and kids’ businesses. It also intends to open up to 200 new smaller-format, digitally enabled stores across North America and Europe-Middle East-Africa countries.
Last month, the athletic giant also made a series of top leadership changes and revealed 500 corporate job cuts at is Beaverton, Ore. headquarters.
Even before the latest moves were enacted by new CEO John Donahoe — who stepped into the role last year — the company was overhauling its wholesale strategy and cutting ties with some long-term partners.
“With the amount of transformation [that’s happening], we have to be agile,” Heidi O’Neill told FN last year, when she was president of Nike Direct. (O’Neill was elevated to president of consumer and marketplace in February.) “We have to look for retailers who are investing in themselves and creating great consumer experiences because that is a part of partnerships — it can’t be Nike alone. Those partners and independents that have great followings — and there are cult-like followings behind some of our partners — we will stay with them. They make us better.”
In his note, Poser said that Dick’s Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports and Shoe Carnival should be the biggest beneficiaries of Nike’s decision to cut ties with other retailers — because of where they are located. It’s also a positive for Famous Footwear and DSW, Poser noted, and the shrinking number of distribution partners could also lift Foot Locker “to some degree.”