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Nike Outsources Olympic Shoe Business

If there’s a lesson to be learned from Under Armour’s rise to a $1 billion company, it’s that all niches of business are worth exploring.

Case in point, what Nike has started to do with its Olympic sports shoe business.

Omada Rowing shoe
Nike
Omada Rowing shoe

They’ve hired a former executive of theirs to do all the work — research how to make their shoes better and communicate that information back to headquarters. Then, figure out where are the best channels to sell the shoes and distribute them.

“Nike has built deep relationships with athletes and they need to be where athletes live,” said Eddie Brown, who worked at Nike for 15 years before starting up Athlete Performance Solutions.

Nike made world class products for Olympics sports in Beijing — wrestling, rowing, boxing, weightlifting and fencing shoes, among them — but they never had a retail plan. Now, with Brown, these products will hit the marketplace.

Even though it’s a niche business, Brown says Nike feels it’s important to be in these spaces.

“It’s about authenticity,” Brown said. “Nike wants to demonstrate their continued commitment in the Olympic sports.”

Nike Ballestra
Source: Nike
Nike Ballestra

Go to popular fencing Web site Fencing.net, for example, and you’ll see the Nike Ballestra (retail price $220) for sale. You’ll also find it at top fencing retailer Leon Paul.

Are Olympic sports shoes where the money is? Probably not. But the idea that another company would be able to penetrate that space like Under Armour did with its moisture wicking gear is one of the reasons why Nike believes it's worth the spend.

Having known the top executives at Nike for a while, I know they don't like to see any area of sport that they aren't competing in.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com