- Reebok has expanded its partnership with Foot Locker under soon-to-be-owner Authentic Brands Group, just one of several recent announcements that hint at the brand's future strategy.
- With the new deal, Foot Locker will deepen its assortment of Reebok products and will receive exclusive footwear from the brand, including some styles from basketball stars Allen Iverson and Shaquille O'Neal.
- Products will be sold online and in Foot Locker stores, and the expanded assortment is expected to hit stores this fall, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Foot Locker is key to Reebok's growth strategy, according to Authentic Brands CEO Jamie Salter, who has been building out the brand's growth strategy over the past several months.
In December, Authentic Brands signed a deal with JD Group to expand Reebok into more than 2,850 stores in North America and Europe, including the Finish Line and JD banners. The company has also named operating partners for Reebok in a variety of global markets and established the Reebok Design Group, which will be the company's global hub for design, development and innovation.
"We are thrilled to announce our Reebok partnership with Foot Locker as they are an essential part of our strategic growth plan for the brand," Salter said in a statement. "We are excited to partner with a retailer who holds such an important position with both sports and lifestyle audiences and look forward to driving brand heat with new and iconic product."
Authentic Brands' growth plan for Reebok has not come without losses, though. Reebok in January released plans to lay off about 150 employees once the acquisition closes to accommodate "a new operating model" and not long after, Reebok's Creative Director Kerby Jean-Raymond announced his departure.
Reebok's expanded deal with Foot Locker demonstrates an interest in returning to some of the brand's basketball roots. In the '90s, Reebok signed Iverson and O'Neal to its brand ambassador roster, hoping to make a name for itself in the basketball space. While that worked for a time, neither partnership landed Reebok the kind of success Nike saw with Michael Jordan.
"Big men typically just don't sell shoes," Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for Sports with the NPD Group, told Retail Dive of O'Neal last summer. "Your average 12-year-old in the driveway could dream of being Allen Iverson and shooting from outside and all the crossover dribble and all the things that Iverson did. Not in their wildest dreams would they ever think they could be Shaq because he's just a giant. And giant men need really supportive footwear, which tends to make [the shoes] kind of ugly."
Under parent company Adidas, Reebok shifted away from its sports positioning and focused on the fitness market instead, a move designed to make the two brands less competitive with each other. With new ownership on the horizon, however, Reebok has the chance to reenter some of the markets it sidelined under Adidas.