In 2021, we expect a robust recovery of the global economy and consumer spending. While uncertainty due to prolonged adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic remains high, we anticipate the global sporting goods industry to recover notably in 2021. Besides structural industry tailwinds, the execution of our new strategy ‘Own the Game’ as well as our strong product pipeline are forecast to lead to currency-neutral net sales growth in a mid-to high-teens range. Gross margin is expected to almost fully recover to the pre-covid-19 level and to reach around 52%. Operating margin is anticipated to increase to a level of between 9% and 10%. As a result, net income from continuing operations is forecast to increase to a level of between € 1.25 billion and € 1.45 billion. All expectations stated in this outlook exclude contributions from the Reebok brand.


Intended divestiture of Reebok

As part of the development of its new strategy ‘Own the Game’, adidas has concluded its assessment of strategic alternatives for Reebok. As a result of this review, the company decided in February 2021 to begin a formal process aimed at divesting Reebok. Accordingly, adidas is going to report the Reebok business as discontinued operations from the first quarter 2021 onward. Immediately before the reclassification to discontinued operations, an impairment test according to IAS 36 was conducted and no impairment or write-up was required. On the initial classification as discontinued operations, the measurement at fair value also did not lead to an impairment. The table further below in this chapter shows the major line items in the consolidated income statement for the year 2020 under the assumption that the Reebok business activities had been represented as discontinued operations on January 1, 2020.


Forward-looking statements

This Management Report contains forward-looking statements that reflect Management’s current view with respect to the future development of our company. The outlook is based on estimates that we have made on the basis of all the information available to us at the time of completion of this Annual Report. In addition, such forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties which are beyond the control of the company. In case the underlying assumptions turn out to be incorrect or described risks or opportunities materialize, actual results and developments may materially deviate (negatively or positively) from those expressed by such statements. adidas does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this Management Report beyond statutory disclosure obligations. See Risk and Opportunity Report

Changes to segmental reporting

At the beginning of 2021, we launched our new strategy ‘Own the Game’ for the period until 2025. As part of this strategy, we focus our growth efforts on the three strategic markets Greater China, North America and EMEA. In these markets, we will bring exciting consumer experiences to life by pursuing a tailored approach that appeals to local trends. In order to be able to execute this strategy successfully, adidas has changed its organizational structure. Since January 1, 2021, adidas manages Greater China as a separate market. The remaining Asia-Pacific (APAC) market now comprises Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and the Pacific region. The change reflects the increasing importance of Greater China as a growth market for the company. In addition, adidas created the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) market. To better leverage economies of scale, the company has integrated the former markets Europe, Russia/CIS and Emerging Markets into the newly formed EMEA market. The markets North America and Latin America remain unchanged.

Global economic growth to recover in 20211

Global GDP is expected to grow 4.0% in 2021, while uncertainty due to prolonged adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic remains high. Output, consumption, and trade are forecast to gradually improve amid effective pandemic management as well as continued monetary policy accommodation. Nevertheless, delays in the development and issuance of vaccines and extended lockdown measures remain existing downside risks to the economic recovery. In addition, differences in the pace of growth between developed and developing economies affect the global GDP projection. Developed economies are forecast to see an increase of growth to 3.3%, underlined by widespread vaccination as well as consumer confidence, consumption and trade gradually improving. Growth in developing economies is projected at 5.0%, reflecting a rebound in industrial production, retail sales and trade. On a global level, additional downside risks include a re-escalation of trade tensions and lengthy setbacks in containing the pandemic.

1 Source: Worldbank Global Economic Prospects.

Sporting goods industry to recover notably in 2021

In the absence of any delay in the pandemic recovery or other macroeconomic shocks, we expect the global sporting goods industry to recover notably in 2021. Consumer confidence is forecast to rebound amid widespread vaccination and effective pandemic management as well as major sports events returning to the global stage. While extended lockdown periods, quarantine measures and physical store closures are still forecast to have an adverse impact in the short term, the sporting goods industry is projected to remain fundamentally attractive in the long term, as existing global trends are accelerating. Sports-inspired apparel and footwear () keeps evolving as a structural component of the broader fashion landscape, complemented by increasing sports participation rates as well as rising awareness for health and wellness. In addition, sustainability is expected to further gain in importance amid growing environmental awareness of consumers. Moreover, purchasing behavior is forecast to further shift toward online and social channels, and consumer insights generation along with the creation of premium shopping experiences become increasingly important. For the sporting goods sector too, risks related to re-escalating trade tensions and a delay in the pandemic recovery, remain.

2021 Outlook1



2020 excluding Reebok


2021 Outlook

Net sales (€ in billions)




to increase at a mid- to high-teens rate2





mid- to high-teens increase2

North America




high-single-digit increase2

Greater China




20% – 30% increase2





20% – 30% increase2

Latin America




20% – 30% increase2

Gross margin




to increase to a level of around 52%

Operating margin




to increase to a level of between 9% and 10%

Net income from continuing operations (€ in billions)




to increase to a level of betweeen € 1.25 billion and € 1.45 billion

Average operating working capital (in % of sales)3



to decrease to a level of below 20%

Capital expenditure (€ in millions)3



to increase to a level of around € 700 million


Excluding Reebok.




Base value for 2020 excluding Reebok not available at time of closing of this report.

Currency-neutral sales to increase in the mid- to high-teens in 2021

After the significant revenue decline experienced in 2020 due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus, we expect a strong recovery in terms of currency-neutral sales in 2021. Despite continued lockdown measures in certain parts of the world and uncertainties regarding the global economic outlook, the company’s sales development will be favorably impacted by long-term industry growth drivers such as increasing sports participation, the growing penetration of sports-inspired apparel and footwear (‘athleisure’) and digitalization. Beyond these structural industry tailwinds, the execution of our new strategy ‘Own the Game’ as well as our strong product pipeline are expected to drive strong sales growth. Specifically, we expect sales to increase at a mid- to high-teens rate on a currency-neutral basis. Similar to 2020, currency headwinds are forecast to persist, resulting in lower sales growth in reported terms.

Currency-neutral revenues to increase in all market segments

In 2021, we expect currency-neutral revenues to increase in all market segments. The markets that were impacted the most in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic are anticipated to also show the strongest recovery in 2021. Consequently, Greater China, Asia-Pacific and Latin America are all projected to grow currency-neutral net sales in a range of between 20% and 30%. EMEA is expected to record growth in the mid- to high-teens. And North America, the market that was least impacted in 2020, is forecast to expand currency-neutral revenues at a high-single-digit rate.

Gross margin expected to recover almost fully to around 52%

The gross margin was also negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. In 2021, gross margin is expected to almost fully recover to the pre-covid-19 level and to reach a level of around 52%. Unfavorable currency developments will continue to weigh on gross margin development, especially in the first half of the year. These will be more than compensated in particular by an improved pricing mix, as discount levels normalize.

Operating margin to expand to a level of between 9% and 10%

In 2021, the operating margin is projected to increase significantly to a level of between 9% and 10%. After deleverage in 2020, the significant recovery in net sales is expected to lead the margin recovery. Additional support will come from the improvement in gross margin and continued strict cost control. Net income from continuing operations is projected to increase to a level of between € 1.25 billion and € 1.45 billion.

Average operating working capital as a percentage of sales to decrease

During the coronavirus pandemic, average operating working capital as a percentage of sales increased as a result of prolonged temporary store closures and reduced sell-through. Already toward the end of 2020, we were able to normalize inventory levels. In 2021, we will continue this development and bring average operating working capital as percentage of sales back to below 20%.

Capital expenditure to increase to around € 700 million

In order to execute our growth strategy, we will continue to invest into our business. Consequently, capital expenditure is expected to increase to a level of around € 700 million in 2021. Investments into our own-retail stores as well as into digital, including e-commerce, will make up the biggest part of capital expenditure.

Management proposes to resume dividend payments

The adidas Executive Board decided to resume the company’s dividend payments. Subject to the approval by the Supervisory Board, the company will propose paying a dividend of € 3.00 per dividend-entitled share for the financial year 2020 to adidas shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on May 12, 2021. The dividend proposal, which reflects the company’s strengthened financial profile as well as Management’s positive outlook for the current year, would result in a total dividend payout of € 585 million. See Our Share


The term is composed of the words athletic and leisure. It describes a fashion trend of sportswear no longer being just meant for training but increasingly shaping everyday clothing.

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