Adidas profit plummets 78% in pandemic-hit 2020

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Adidas was hit hard by the pandemic, which led to the closure of many of its stores

German sportswear group Adidas said Wednesday its profits dived 78 percent in 2020 after being pummelled by the coronavirus pandemic, but forecast a sharp rebound ahead.

The Bavaria-based company, which is trying to sell its struggling US subsidiary Reebok, reported its net profits fell to 432 million euros ($513 million) last year from 1.97 billion euros in 2019.

It also saw sales drop 16 percent to 19.8 billion euros.

But Adidas sought to highlight that sales recovered in most of the world in the fourth quarter of a year in which many of its stores were forced to shut due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The exception was Europe, where around half of the company's stores were still closed by the end of the year, Adidas said in a statement.

Sales of the flagship Adidas brand sunk by 13 percent in 2020, while Reebok sales dropped 16 percent.

Last month Adidas said it will sell Reebok, which it acquired in 2006 for 3.1 billion euros with the aim of taking on US rival Nike.

But Reebok struggled to shine under its German owner, despite high-profile collaborations with the likes of Victoria Beckham, Cardi B and Ariana Grande in recent years.

Adidas said it has launched a formal process to divest itself of Reebok, and the company's five-year growth strategy presented on Wednesday excluded the brand.

One silver lining in the year of shuttered stores was that online sales soared 53 percent to four billion euros -- more than a fifth of total sales.

With 95 percent of its stores now open across the world, Adidas "will be fast out of the gate" in 2021, chief executive Kasper Rorsted said in the statement.

The company expects sales to grow 15-20 percent over the year, with even higher gains expected in China, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Adidas forecast net profits of 1.25-1.45 billion euros in 2021.

It also proposed to pay shareholders a dividend of three euros per share.

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