20 May Brooks Running Shoes Hit Their Stride
Brooks was a hot running brand in the 1970s and ’80s, but it also tried to be a full-on athletic company selling cleats, high-tops and a wide range of apparel. The firm’s endorsement roster included football’s Dan Marino, James Worthy of the NBA and tennis legend Jimmy Connors. “We used to play the game that Nike has perfected and we were not successful,” says Brooks Sports CEO Jim Weber.
Brooks, based in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, celebrates its centennial anniversary as a company next year, but it is only in the past dozen years that Brooks has found its rhythm. Weber joined Brooks in 2001 as CEO and spearheaded a new initiative that focused the company on performance running shoes and gear. No more basketball or football. Tennis was out. Distribution was narrowed to mostly just top running retailers and specialty retailers. The results have been outstanding in recent years.
Sales have more than doubled from $180 million in 2009 to $409 million last year. Weber expects sales to hit $500 million in 2013. Brooks’ U.S. market share in the performance run category this year is 11.8% behind only Nike (40%) and Asics (24.3%), according to research firm SportsOneSource. Elite runners are increasingly turning to Brooks. Weber says that more people were outfitted in Brooks sneakers than Nike at this year’s Boston Marathon. “We’re building a brand with runners and that is where we pay the most attention to,” says Weber.