Nike CEO Says Layoffs Are Coming

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On the same day of Nike’s dismal earnings, CEO John Donahoe sent an email to employees warning them that layoffs are coming.

“We will soon be forced to make some difficult choices that will likely result in a net reduction of jobs,” the email, sent late Thursday, said, according to Complex Magazine.

Nike, whose stock has rallied more than 50% from its March 23 close, reported that sales were down 38% with a net loss of $790 million in the fiscal fourth quarter, after Covid-19 forced the closure of most of its stores around the world. It’s a rare miss for the company that has only fallen short of earnings estimates twice over the last eight years.

All of its stores are now reopened.

“We are building a flatter, nimbler company and transforming Nike faster to define the marketplace of the future. We are shifting resources and creating capacity to reinvest in our highest potential areas, and we anticipate our realignment will likely result in a net loss of jobs,” Nike said in a statement provided to CNBC.

Despite the timing of the letter, the sports apparel company said the reductions are not being done for cost savings. “Any savings will be reinvested into our priorities,” the company said.

The layoffs are expected to come in two waves. The first in July, and a second in the fall. It’s not yet known how many people will be impacted. Nike has 76,700 employees, according to a filing with the Securities and Exhange Commission.

CNBC confirms that Nike’s retail store athletes, distribution centers and its Air MI manufacturing facilities are not expected to be affected by the layoffs.

“We are committed to showing compassion and respect for our transitioning employees through thoughtful and robust severance practices, consistent with our company values, our legal obligations, the competitive marketplace and individual employee situations,” Nike said.

One bright spot for Nike’s quarter was digital sales, which soared 75%. Online sales are about 30% of its total business, and rang up $5.5 billion in sales in fiscal 2019.

On its investor call Thursday, the company touted its focus on speeding up its direct-to-consumer efforts, highlighting it as the next phase of its strategy.

“Consumer direct acceleration is more than just the next phase of our strategy. It’s the spark that will ignite and empower our entire company to serve consumers, our business and our teams better,” he added.

Nike shares were down 5% in recent trading Friday. The stock has a market value of nearly $150 billion.


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