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“We Made Mistakes in China,” Admits Adidas CEO Before Stepping Down

Chinese netizens have not forgiven or forgotten the sports giant’s contradictory comments about cotton production in Xinjiang

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5:50 PM HKT, Fri August 26, 2022 1 mins read

On August 22, German sports goods manufacturer Adidas announced that its chief executive officer (CEO) Kasper Rorsted would be stepping down next year, even though his contract was supposed to last until 2025.

While the sports giant has seen a steady increase in stock value throughout Rorsted’s run as CEO since 2016, the brand has faced many challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plus boycotts from Chinese consumers.

Even though Adidas replaced its China chief in March, the company’s revenue has continued to drop in the country.

“We made mistakes in China,” admitted Rorsted during an interview with Handelsblatt days before the announcement. His unexpected departure has roused renewed discussions among Chinese netizens, who also believe that Adidas has made its fair share of mistakes.

Since the announcement of Rorsted’s coming departure from the company, the hashtag ‘What’s wrong with Adidas in China’ (#阿迪达斯在中国到底错在哪#) has garnered almost 100 million views on the microblogging site Weibo.

Companies like Nike and H&M have also experienced revenue declines in China for similar reasons. As China was Adidas’ largest market in 2021, the company’s failure to strengthen its consumer base in the country will have painful monetary consequences.

Chinese netizens are still railing against the company (and others) for its contradictory comments on cotton production in Xinjiang. Adidas has tried to woo Chinese shoppers while also wiping its hands clean of any involvement with China’s northwestern region, pointed out New York City-based online publication Quartz in May 2021.

“I will not buy a brand that boycotts Xinjiang cotton,” commented one Weibo user, while another said, “[Adidas is] humiliating China and still wanting to make money.” Many netizens have echoed both opinions.

Cover image via Pixabay

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