Nike’s Phil Knight Breaks Si­lence on Man­age­ment Shake-up

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Nike’s founder Phil Knight has bro­ken his si­lence over the ex­ec­u­tive scan­dal that has rocked the com­pany he founded more than 50 years ago.

The pioneer­ing busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive who launched Nike with a $50 loan from his fa­ther to cre­ate what has be­come the most suc­cess­ful ath­letic brand in the world said he was shocked by re­cent al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread mis­con­duct in the brand’s up­per ranks.

“It was a shock to me per­son­ally and to a lot of the up­per man­age­ment, and it’s dis­ap­point­ing,” Knight said on a talk show about the re­cent de­par­tures of 10-plus ex­ec­u­tives, all of whom were al­legedly do­ers or en­ablers of mis­be­hav­ior at the firm.

The com­pany has been on a block­buster run for decades — un­veil­ing in 2015 an am­bi­tious five-year rev­enue tar­get of $50 bil­lion.

A re­port by Yougov Brandin­dex this month in­di­cated Nike’s con­sumer per­cep­tion has largely held steady over the past sev­eral weeks, fol­low­ing an ini­tial sharp — but short- lived — drop in mid-march when sto­ries of the brand’s in­ter­nal is­sues first emerged.

And de­spite the fact that women were sup­pos­edly on the re­ceiv­ing end of the al­leged mis­treat­ment at the brand, Yougov found that women con­sis­tently had a more fa­vor­able view of Nike than men dur­ing the tu­mul­tuous pe­riod.

Knight also called out the brand’s ef­forts to get closer to women, “The fe­male mar­ket has been ex­tremely im­por­tant to us for a long time. Ser­ena Wil­liams is a role model for all of us.”

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