Adidas CEO Gave His Cellphone Number to His 60,000 Employees

Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden made an unorthodox move when he took the helm of the German sportswear company last year.

At his first town hall as the company’s new chief executive, he shared his personal cellphone number with Adidas’ 60,000 employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move was meant to lift spirits and promote transparency in the wake of the company’s messy split with Yeezy founder Kanye “Ye” West.

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“Some people think I’m crazy,” Gulden told the Journal. In the following weeks, Gulden says he was contacted close to 200 times each week by employees who worried about the future of the company.

Adidas took a significant financial hit when it parted ways with West in October of 2022 after the designer made a series of antisemitic marks on social media. Adidas’ current financial outlook represents the assumption that Adidas writes off the remaining 300 million euros (or $320 million) worth of remaining Yeezy products.

FN has reached out to Adidas for a comment.

Since taking the helm of Adidas, Gulden has taken an unfiltered approach in the way he addresses the media and the Street. In a call with analysts in March, the executive spoke candidly about the perception of work culture at Adidas.

“There has been a lot of negativity around Adidas, at least from the outside, about negative culture and people not liking to work here,” Gulden said. “I think there is a perception that this is not a great place to work, which is very, very wrong. And as I said, all the ingredients to be a great place to work is there and maybe we need to market it more down the road.”

The executive has also been candid about the brand’s shortcomings.

“The lifestyle side, which ironically is where we have a bigger archive than anybody else and where the trend in the market has gone back to with the ’90s and the ’80s, we have not exploited that the way that, for example, Nike has done,” he said in March. “And this is where we need to do a much, much better job.”

In more recent quarters, Adidas has seen positive results from its decision to start selling Yeezy merchandise once again. Adidas said it would donate a “significant” portion of proceeds from these sales to organizations representing people who “were hurt” by Kanye West’s comments. Before deciding to sell this merchandise again, Adidas weighed a variety of options for what to do with the leftover $1.3 billion (or 1.2 billion euros) worth of Yeezy product, which was projected to yield a potential 500 million euros (or $537 million) hit to operating profit.

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