After a year of turnaround that has seen the brand recapture momentum in the U.S. market, adidas-Salomon AG announced last week that 14-year brand veteran Rob Langstaff has been appointed president of adidas America Inc., effective January 1, 2006. Langstaff, an American citizen with broad international experience, including several years at adidas HQ in Germany, has been running the company’s Japan operation, adidas Japan K.K., since 2003. He was credited with growing adidas’ market share in Japan from number three to the top spot in just 18 months.

Langstaff will report to Erich Stamminger, CEO of adidas America and executive board member of adidas-Salomon AG responsible for global marketing and North America. Christophe Bezu, head of adidas’ Asia/Pacific region, will continue to have overall oversight of the adidas operations in Japan.

Langstaff, who picked up his MBA in Germany, began his career at adidas in 1991 as a manager in the track and field category, directing the company's efforts in the design, development, and sourcing for footwear worn in the Atlanta Olympics. He worked for several years in Strategic Planning in Germany, and served as project manager for the company's successful IPO in 1995 before moving to Japan in 1998.

In other adidas news, a state appeals court in California has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop adidas and some of its soccer specialty retailers from selling soccer boots made with kangaroo leather. The California State Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the “State prohibition of the import of kangaroo products interferes with the federal objectives of achieving — and maintaining — Australian kangaroo management procedures.”

The suit was filed in May 2003 by Viva!, or International Voice for Animals, an animal rights group based in Davis, Calif., claiming that sales of adidas shoes made with the kangaroo hide violated a 1970 state law that bans the commercial importation or sales of products from any of 23 animals including kangaroos. The defendants in the lawsuit were adidas Promotional Retail Operations and soccer specialty and sporting goods stores in the state.