ADIDAS CEO: Making shoes in the US is ‘very illogical and highly unlikely’

Kasper RorstedKasper Rorsted.AP/Matthias Schrader

Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted has some sad news for those expecting a manufacturing revival in either the US or Europe.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Rorsted dispelled the notion that the bulk of manufacturing could come back to Europe in the near future.

“Our production landscape is 90% Asia-based. I do not believe, and it’s a complete illusion to believe, that manufacturing can go back to Europe in terms of volume,” he told the FT.

Rorsted wasn’t any more optimistic about moving manufacturing to the US either.

“[Moving] to the US, the only thing you get out of it is potentially a political interest, you are moving into a market where you have no competence. Just financially it’s very illogical and highly unlikely that will happen,” he said.

Rorsted added that this “goes for the entire industry,” and also applies to its main competitors in the US: Nike and Under Armour.

Adidas is pioneering its highly automated “speedfactory” in both Germany and Atlanta, which is designed to increase the speed to market of low-volume designs and products. These are essentially pilot projects for advanced manufacturing, which Rorsted says will eventually make its way to Asia.

“What you’re going to see is sophisticated manufacturing technology manufacturing shoes for a very small market segment, and then you’re going to see those sophisticated manufacturing technologies taken back into China,” he said.

The net effect of this: manufacturing is staying in Asia, according to Rorsted.

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