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Nike and Foot Locker May Be Getting Back in Step

The athletic gear giant, in an SEC filing, reports a rise in orders from its biggest customer.

August 11, 2003|From Associated Press

A $400-million rift between Nike Inc. and its biggest customer, Foot Locker Inc., may be on the mend.

Nike said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that U.S. orders for the company's products had improved, "most notably" because of an increase in orders from Foot Locker, the nation's largest athletic shoe retailer.

Early last year, Foot Locker announced it was cutting its Nike orders to protest restrictions on shoe prices and selection. Nike responded by slashing its planned 2003 shipments to Foot Locker by $400 million, or 40% of the previous year's level, withholding some of the most popular Nike shoes.

The SEC filing did not say by how much Nike orders to Foot Locker had increased.

But the additional business reduced the decline in U.S. orders to 9% for deliveries between June and November compared with the same period last year. Nike on June 26 had reported a 10% decline in U.S. orders, even as worldwide orders increased 5% during the same June-to- November period.

Despite the recent boost, Nike said it expected revenue from U.S. sneaker sales to remain below last year's levels at least through the end of the year.

Foot Locker also has reported declines in second- quarter sales at its stores open at least a year. As a result, analysts say, the two companies recently have shown signs of wanting to make up.

"Both companies are going out of their way to be nice to each other because they really do need each other," said John Shanley, a Wells Fargo analyst in New York who does not own shares of either company.

Representatives of New York-based Foot Locker did not return phone calls. Nike spokeswoman Joani Komlos declined to comment.

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