Adidas executives made it official on Wednesday. After months of hinting the company would be amenable to offers for its golf brands, chief executive Herbert Hainer said the company has “decided that now is the time to focus even more on our core strength in the athletic footwear and apparel market.”
So, TaylorMade is, officially, for sale.
The announcement came on the heels of strong numbers for Adidas. First-quarter North American sales for all brands jumped 31 percent compared to last year, after an increase in marketing expenditures. Worldwide, the company showed a year-to-year increase of 26 percent and Adidas stock price hit an all-time high last week.
However, golf sales were down 1 percent in Q1. And in 2015, overall golf unit sales (which include TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth) fell 13 percent.
“With its leadership position in the industry and the turnaround plan gaining traction, which is clearly reflected in the top- and bottom-line improvements recorded in Q1 as well as recent market share gains, I am convinced that TaylorMade offers attractive growth opportunities in the future,” Hainer said. “At the same time, the planned divestiture will allow us to reduce complexity and focus our efforts on those areas of our business that offer the highest return and where we can have the biggest impact in reaching our consumers and winning their loyalty for the Adidas and Reebok brands.”
Earlier in the year, a group of Chinese investors were said to be looking at TaylorMade but no potential purchasers were identified.
The most logical potential suitor would be Under Armour, which has footwear and apparel but no equipment. UA has Jordan Spieth, Hunter Mahan and Gary Woodland among its roster of athlete endorsers, along with Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Clayton Kershaw and Lindsey Vonn, among others. Equipment is the missing piece for the company to become a major player in the golf business.
There has been no word on the future of the current TaylorMade players, which include Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Sergio García, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Paul Azinger, Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson and Brittany Lincicome, among others.