It was a tale of two cities in the fourth quarter as Phil Knight, the founder, chairman, president and CEO of Nike, Inc. announced in December that he was stepping down from the president & CEO role and handing the reins of the company to an outsider. On the opposite coast, Paul Fireman, chairman and CEO of Reebok International, decided to re-assert his control of the company, forcing out president and COO Jay Margolis and assuming control of day-to-day operations.
While both companies had good years, Nike was clearly playing at the top of its game and chairman Knight and the Board have shifted gears to position the company to play in the world of global multi-brand corporations.
At Reebok, Margolis was credited with implementing some of the key strategies that delivered solid results in the urban market for the Reebok brand during his tenure. But as most watchers readily acknowledge, there is usually only room for one chef in this kitchen, and with Fireman back in fighting form after bypass surgery it was only a matter of time before he got back into the game in a bigger way. No one can drive product and sales people crazier than Paul, but no one can sell his brand better, or know the essence of what he wants created either.