As Americans were prepping to sail off into the holiday weekend, Nike announced that founder Phi Knight will be officially retiring from the atheletic giant’s board and will be taking on the role of “chairman emertius.” Current president and CEO Mike Parket will ascend to the chairmanship – filling out the succession plan laid out about a year ago.
Meanwhile Tim Cook – Apple’s CEO and Nike board member will become the board’s lead independent director.
Nike announces the changes on the heels of a strong quarter performance with increases in revenue in the 6 percent range (9 percent with current fluctuations counted out). However, those profits took a hit of 2 percent with essentially flat sales in North America.
“For me, Nike has always been more than just a company—it has been my life’s passion,” Knight said a year ago as the succession planning was bing announced.
A hard to argue with sentiment – given that Knight was one of two founder of Nike in the 1960’s and the force that grew it into the international power player that it is today. Knight was instrumental in brining NBA start Michael Jordan on board – launching both an still popular footwear brand, and an award winning marketing campaign.
Reports indicate that Knight carefully planned his exit to make sure the transition would be as smooth as imaginable – Parker is his handpicked successor, and Tim Cook has been on Nike’s board since 2005.
“Phil’s impact on Nike is immeasurable,” Parker noted in a press release of Knights departure. “His entrepreneurial drive is and always will be part of our DNA. Along with Nike’s exceptional management team, I am committed to leading our next era of innovation and growth as we serve and inspire athletes throughout the world.”
That what’s next for Nike- however remains up in the air. It’s main competitor Adidas has been dominant in the market by diversifying its offerings to fashion and casual sneakers – and Nike’s atheletic line has been growing more slowly of late.
Sales of Michael Jordan shoes rose 18 percent to $2.8 billion for the fiscal year, Nike brand basketball shoe sales fell to $1.4 billion.