A British athletic shoemaker, a small company called Reebok International intrigued Paul B. Fireman when he attended a sporting goods show in Chicago in 1979. He founded the USA division by acquiring the license for the company’s products in North America.
The origins of this running shoe manufacturer was originally a division created in 1958 by two grandsons of Joseph William Foster, the founder of J.W. Foster and Sons, Inc., the oldest athletic shoe manufacturer in the world. Eventually Reebok took over the older firm J.W. Foster and Sons, Inc.
In 1981, Paul Fireman was out of money and sold 56% of his company to another British shoe company Pentland Industries PLC. Fireman used this money to open a Korean factory to reduce costs.
The early 1980s launch of the women’s athletic shoe lines opened up a new market, and the mid-1980s saw the company diversify its product line and remain strong in the market place as a result of its advertising and corporate strength. In the late 80s however, the company saw a decline sales which was an issue into the 1990s as well, but Reebok didn’t give up, continued to diversify, change CEO’s and came back as a strong company.
Interesting Facts about Reebok
* Their shoes were worn in the 1924 Summer Games by athletes that were later celebrated in Chariots of Fire, a Hollywood film
* Reebok is named after an Africa Gazelle
* They designed the first athletic shoe made especially for women in 1981
* Cybill Shepherd wore a bright orange pair of Reeboks to the Emmy Awards in 1985 under her formal black gown.
* Reebok signed a deal with the NFL in 2002 to manufacture and sell their licensed apparel for each of the 32 NFL teams
* Reebok also signed a deal with the NBA’s minor league, the Women’s National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association in 2001 to manufacture and sell their licensed apparel, however in 2006 the NBA rights were transferred to Adidas.
* In 2006 Reebok became a part of the Adidas Group
* In 2007, Reebok started a TV series called Framed, a form of branded entertainment
Celebrity endorsements for Reebok have come from Paula Abdul, 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, Boomer Esiason, Eve, Allen Iverson, Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Nancy Kerrigan, Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb, Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal, Andy Roddick, Shakira and Venus Williams. Reebok certainly knows how to choose the highest profile celebrities who are watched globally not only for their talents, but also for their fashion apparel.
Where is the Company Heading?
A joint roadmap deal has been signed between C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike, Puma and the Adidas Group, an ambitious plan that by 2020 will see them discharge zero hazardous chemicals into the supply chain.
This roadmap will set standards for the apparel industries worldwide, encouraging sustainability and corporate responsibility towards our environment. The plan has been met with positive response from others in the apparel industry, resulting in a meeting in 2011 with over 30 different brands, experts and chemical companies.
The aim of this roadmap is to ‘safeguard the environment for future generations’.
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