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Adidas scores as US sales trump weak golf business

Adidas shares leaped as much as 8.8 percent on Thursday, boosted by sales in North America, as the German sportswear retailer intensifies its push into Nike's home territory.

Net sales in North America jumped by 25.0 percent in the first nine months of 2015 (year-on-year) to 2.0 billion euros ($2.2 billion) from 1.6 billion euros, according to its quarterly earnings report. This helped boost overall net sales by 16.7 percent for the same period, to 12.7 billion euros from 10.9 billion euros.

"I am quite happy with the growth of the Adidas brand in the U.S. in the third quarter," Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer told CNBC on Thursday.

The Bavarian-born executive outlined the brand's marketing push in the U.S., which included endorsements by big names in American football and basketball.

"Our plan is starting to work. Obviously, in the first quarter (of 2016), we will intensify our marketing support, supporting our key assets like James Harden and Aaron Rogers with a big basketball campaign on the one hand, and Aaron Rogers on the American football side," he said.

"We will bring a new Originals franchise to the market in December, when we will highly activate doing all the social media and TV advertising, et cetera, and then finally we are pushing strongly our presence in stores with our key retail partners."

An Adidas Store is shown at the Galleria Mall in Houston.
Earl Gibson III | WireImage | Getty Images
An Adidas Store is shown at the Galleria Mall in Houston.

Adidas also scored in Greater China, where net sales rocketed by 42.0 percent in the first three quarters of 2015, versus the same period in 2014.

"It is good to see the (Chinese) consumer is still spending the money for keeping his health and his body shape in line and I think the sporting goods industry has a tremendous opportunity in China, because people are becoming more-and-more sporty," Hainer told CNBC.

The success in China and the U.S. helped offset difficulties in the TaylorMade-Adidas Golf business, which has struggled as the popularity of golf wanes, particularly in the U.S.

On Thursday, TaylorMade posted a narrow net sales gain of 0.7 percent in the year until September. Adidas has engaged in a large restructuring of the unit, which includes plans to cut its workforce by 14 percent by the end of the year.

"When you look to the total golf market and especially our golf business over the last two years, you can clearly see that we cannot keep the pace that we had over the last 10 years," Hainer told CNBC.

Colin Anderson/Blend Images/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, Hainer denied that the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA, soccer's global governing body, had tarnished Adidas. That's even though Adidas is a major sponsor of the soccer World Cup and refused to join other sponsors in demanding the immediate departure of FIFA President Sepp Blatter after Swiss authorities opened a criminal investigation into him.

"The image for our products has never been better, so I am definitely convinced that the consumers clearly differentiate between us as a company and the brand and what's going on in FIFA," the CEO told journalists on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Adidas shares rocketed up to 8.8 percent to the top of the German DAX index on Thursday after results were released.

— By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter @KatyBarnato.

Correction: This story had been updated to reflect that American football player, Aaron Rogers, has signed a promotional deal with Adidas.