Nike Competitor offered Catalog Secrets, Takes the high road


This story hit the newswires middle or end of last week and the new story showed up on the New England Runner enewsletter. An employee of a printer somehow found a copy of a Nike Catalog, and tried to sell it to several of Nike's did not work out how he expected..

This industry is very competitive. While the guys can get together at a Rosie O'Gradys' for a few beers and to catch up with friends, the footwear biz is at its most competitive in many years. But, there are, thankfully, standards.

Richie Woodworth, the President of Saucony, has been in the industry a long time, formerly with Reebok, Foot Joy and a competitive skier. Woodworth was one of the
guys who received the offer to see a unreleased Nike catalog.

Mr. Woodworth took the offer, put it in a new envelope and sent it to Mark Parker, CEO at Nike, Inc. with a short note. Nike then reported the incident to the FBI and the gentleman who had offered the Nike catalog to the highest bidder was arrested and has been arraigned.

Competition is tough in this business. Saucony did $89 million last year, Nike did $16 billion. But in the ultra high margins of the specialty running business, the top $900 million of the running footwear mountaintop ($6.5 billion in running footwear sold globally in 2006), Saucony has is the number three seller and Nike, at the bragging rights of this part of the business, is in fourth or fifth. Now, it should be said that Nike sells about $3 billion in running footwear, most under $70, but this ultra high level, important prestige business has seen a refocus from Nike in the past two years. The king of the specialty running biz is ASICS, with Brooks a close second.

Even with this competition, Woodworth took the high road. When asked what his compatriots at Nike would have done, Richie said he believed Parker would have done
the same thing. In these days of dog eat dog, it is refreshing to see business executives with moral backbone and ethics.

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