Ambiguity surrounding Nike job cuts

While it is clear that Nike is making the biggest reduction in staff numbers in company history, with approximately 1,750 people losing their jobs, the sportswear giant has not confirmed how its golf operations will be affected specifically.

Nike employed around 35,000 staff globally at the start of 2009, with five per cent of that workforce now scheduled to depart, but the company has not confirmed where the cuts will be made in terms of business sectors.

“Nike began a global workforce review in February in an effort to enhance its consumer focus, speed decision making and to create a stronger organisational structure for the future,” Stan Grissinger, general manager of Nike EMEA, tells SGB Golf. “We are not in a position to confirm numbers by specific business unit or function but this 5% figure may not be uniformly distributed across Nike.”

Included in the cut-backs are production closures in a number of factories in the Far East, although Grissinger has confirmed these measures will not affect Nike’s golf business.

Nike’s marketing spend is also being hit, which brings into question sponsorship agreements with golfers such as Paul Casey and Tiger Woods – who is essentially the face of Nike Golf – although Grissinger stresses the annual multi-million dollar deal with Woods is not under threat: “Athletes are core to Nike’s brand and business and we must remain competitive in that marketplace. We are always analysing all aspects of our costs, including sports marketing, to make sure we are spending wisely, but we see Tiger Woods as integral to Nike Golf’s future.”

By the end of Woods’ current contract with Nike in 2011 he will have been with the company for 15 years, earning an estimated $250 million for his trouble.

Grissinger will not reveal any information relating to recent Nike Golf sales figures or forecasts – “We don’t give out commercially sensitive information,” he says – although he claims Nike’s VR irons are selling well, and that Nike has “seen steady growth in the bag and apparel categories”.