Nike’s Second in Command to Retire Amid Management Shift

Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods maker, announced a slew of management changes that included repositioning several current executives and the retirement of its second-in-command.

Charlie Denson, a 34-year veteran and president of the Nike brand, will retire in January and be replaced from within the company by Trevor Edwards on July 1, Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike said yesterday in a statement. Nike also promoted Eric Sprunk to the new position of chief operating officer.

Edwards has “some very big shoes to fill, but they have a very strong, deep management team,” said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst with Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis who has a hold rating on the company’s shares.

While Nike’s sales rebounded after the recession, with revenue surging 16 percent to $24.1 billion in the fiscal year ended in May 2012, growth has slowed in the past three quarters. Revenue in China, Nike’s second-largest market, has declined and the company replaced the head of its business there in May.

Nike fell 0.3 percent to $60.57 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 17 percent this year, compared with a 12 percent advance for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Denson started at the company in 1979 as an assistant manager of one of its original stores. From there, he worked his way up in the sales department and eventually became head of the Nike brand and co-president of the company with Mark Parker in 2001. Parker then became chief executive officer in 2006, replacing William Perez.

Sprunk, currently executive vice president of merchandising and product, will lead all manufacturing, sourcing and information technology for the company. He joined the company in 1993.

Retail Stores

Edwards, currently executive vice president of brand and category management, will succeed Denson as Nike brand president with expanded responsibilities that include overseeing the company’s retail stores and e-commerce. Edwards has been with Nike since 1992.

Those two areas were previously run by Jeanne Jackson in her role as president of direct-to-consumer. Jackson moves into another new position, president of product and merchandising. The former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Gap Inc. executive will oversee the creation of all footwear, apparel and equipment. She joined Nike management in 2009 after eight years on the board.

Nike also moved Thomas Clarke to president of innovation, a new position, from president of new business development.

Gary DeStefano, president of global operations, will retire on July 29 after 31 years at the company. His responsibilities will be taken by Elliott Hill as president of geographies and sales and by Sprunk and Edwards.

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