Nike chief executive Mark Parker predicts growth in China, U.S.

Nike chief executive Mark Parker predicts growth in China, U.S.

Nike chief executive Mark Parker turned his global focus to China, not Ukraine, in an interview Thursday with a CNBC interviewer.

Parker’s interview was timed to coincide with Nike’s introduction Thursday of the Magista soccer shoe. The product release is one of several from Nike’s soccer division, timed to coincide with the 2014 World Cup starting in June in Brazil.

Parker’s statement about China is timely and telling, given the company’s forecasts of flat growth for that Asian nation in recent quarters, contrasting with rapid expansion in recent years.

Here are Parker’s remarks, transcribed from a web-posted version of the interview:

On China

Actually, I feel good about turning the corner in China. You know, we’re not completely around the corner but feeling good about the momentum that we have, feeling like we’re laying the foundation for another whole round of growth in China. I was just in China a couple of weeks ago and went through the marketplace and, again, really excited about the potential we have in that country. It’s the number two country foir Nike in the world.

On the crisis in Ukraine

Well, you know, as I said, we see macroeconomic volatility all around the world. It’s present every day, really, every year. Particularly when you do business in so many different countries. But what really matters is the diviersity that we have in our portfolio and the ability to manage through that type of an environment. I feel really good about where we’re positioned. I feel great about our strategy for growth. We’ll see some headwinds here and there, but overall I feel very confident that we can continue to grow very profitably.

State of the U.S. consumer

I think the weather has had an effect, obviously. Particularly if you’re on the East Coast (or) the Mid-Atlantic, this has been a tough winter. That said, I think the consumer is building some confidence back up. We’re seeing it in our position in the U.S., feel good about the momentum we have in the market. It’s our biggest market. People wonder, ‘Can Nike continue to grow in this market?’ I absolutely feel confident that we can. Not just in gaining share but in growing the market, expanding the market. We’re not immune to some of the volatility in the marketplace, but I feel, again, very confident in terms of the brand, product innovation, and really what’s coming. We’ll continue to see growth for Nike in the U.S. market.

— Allan Brettman