The mega-merger between Adidas and Reebok was sealed on Tuesday, creating a giant new counterpart to Nike, with annual sales of around €9.5 billion. While some observers are afraid that the two brands will cannibalize each other in certain market segments, most of them consider the transaction to be a potentially successful marriage of two different cultures and brand identities, benefiting from a common R&D and sourcing pool. It could set a precedent for other combination in the athletic and non-athletic footwear market.

As expected, the ageing Paul Fireman is stepping down as chief executive of Reebok International, which also owns Rockport and other properties. Paul Harrington had previously replaced him in the post of Reebok brand manager.

An “integration team” is laying down the options available to put together the two entities. The new brand strategy and the strategic direction of the group will be announced in April, but the European portion of the integration process may be decided already in March. It seems likely anyhow that the group will preserve the Rockport brand, which recorded growth of more than 30 percent in Europe last year, thanks in part to major deals with Görtz in Germany and El Corte Inglés in Spain, which are being extended, and to a higher percentage of women’s shoes sold. In fact, the former owners of Adidas had been considering some ten years ago the launch of a casual lifestyle brand (more on this and other athletic footwear themes in another newsletter of ours, Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe).