Boost for Adidas profits as UK PM Sunak fails to put his foot in it with Samba trainers

An Adidas logo is displayed on a shoe box in Vernon Hills, Ill., Tuesday, Oct 25, 2022.
An Adidas logo is displayed on a shoe box in Vernon Hills, Ill., Tuesday, Oct 25, 2022. Copyright Nam Y. Huh/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Nam Y. Huh/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Indrabati Lahiri
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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was widely teased for wearing the Adidas Samba trainers during an interview, with critics claiming he had made the trainer seem uncool.


German sportswear giant Adidas showed a robust sales performance for its iconic Samba trainers as it reported earnings up for the first quarter of 2024.

Media fears some weeks ago that Sunak being seen wearing the trainers might put buyers off have proved unfounded. 

Adidas reported a revenue of €5.46 billion, an increase of 3.5% on the same quarter last year. Net income came in at €171 million, a significant change on the €24 million loss seen in the first quarter of 2023.

Operating profit for Q1 2024 was €336 million, up considerably on the €60 million seen for the same period last year. Earnings per share for the first quarter were revealed to be €0.96, a jump from the €0.18 loss seen in the first quarter of 2023.

The company's chief executive officer, Bjorn Gulden, said in a statement: "I am very happy to see that the business in Q1 developed better than we had expected. Sales, gross margin, and operating profits were all better than initially planned. This means lower inventories, less discounts and better gross margins both for our retail partners and for us.

"The demand for our footwear franchises Samba, Gazelle, Spezial, and Campus is still very strong and growing. We feel we have a very strong pipeline of products for the next quarters.

"The markets are still volatile and not easy, but we feel we are making progress everywhere. We will continue to 'over invest' into the product, into the brand, into sales and marketing to ensure continued growth. We will not try to optimise short-term profit. We know we are not as good as we should be, but I feel that we are making the progress that we had hoped for."

The Rishi Sunak-Samba trainers issue

Adidas' well-loved Samba trainers has been the subject of some debate over the past few weeks, following UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wearing them during a tax policies interview at 10 Downing Street.

Fans of the trainers were soon up in arms, claiming that the Prime Minister had effectively "ruined" the trainers for the public, making them seem uncool, in his attempt to appear young, relevant and relatable. Several people further claimed that the shoes were now going to be seen as an accessory preferred by members of the governing Conservative Party, who are seen as increasingly unpopular. 

Sunak, showing a sense of humour, did issue a public apology for wearing the trainers but was quick to defend himself as a long-time fan of the brand.

Sunak told LBC Radio: "I issue a fulsome apology to the Samba community. But, in my defence, I would say I have been wearing Adidas trainers, including Sambas - and others, in fact - for many, many years. The first pair my brother got for me many many years ago - my first pair of fun Adidas trainers as a Christmas present. I haven't looked back since. So I've been a long-term devotee."

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