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Nike Says Soccer Sales to Soar on World Cup Hype

Nike, Inc., ever in competition with Adidas to be the biggest soccer brand, said it expects kit, or uniform, sales to grow faster following this year’s FIFA World Cup.

For the year ended May 31, 2014, Nike revenues from soccer-related gear totaled $2.3 billion, up 18 percent from $1.9 billion in 2013, the retailer reported last month.

In an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt daily, Nike CEO Mark Parker said, referring to the uptick in sales, “I promise you it will continue like that in the next year,” and added that the soccer revenue stats did not include a few hundred million dollars in shirt sales, according to Reuters.

Both Nike and Adidas are top players in the soccer kit industry, together controlling more than 80 percent of the market share for most products. Adidas supplied the official World Cup match ball this year, but for the first time, Nike outfitted more teams at the competition in Brazil. Out of the 32 teams, Nike supplied kits for 10 of them, compared to nine for Adidas.

Nike may be battling for the win over its German rival, which provided kit for both World Cup finalists Germany and Argentina, but Adidas could soon have a hefty competitive advantage.

Adidas clinched a deal Monday to supply kits for club soccer team Manchester United for 10 years starting next season for 750 million pounds ($1.3 billion) a year, after Nike passed on associating with the club it had been outfitting, citing concerns that the terms of the new contract did not represent good value for shareholders. Nike will continue in its role as technical sponsor and trademark licensee for the 2014/2015 season.

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As an official 2014 FIFA World Cup partner, Adidas took soccer by storm with its “All in or Nothing” campaign and was the most talked about brand throughout the event. The retailer saw an increase of 5.8 million followers across its social media platforms, more than any other brand, according to Adidas.

Herbert Hainer, Adidas Group CEO said, “This World Cup has been an outstanding success for adidas and clearly underlines our position as the world’s leading football brand. From having both finalists, the winning team and all three adidas golden award winners to being the most talked about brand in social media, we were able to dominate the tournament on and off the pitch.”

In a separate statement, Hainer said, “At the same time, this collaboration marks a milestone for us when it comes to merchandising potential. We expect total sales to reach £1.5bn [$2.56 billion] during the duration of our partnership.”

Nike supplied kits for World Cup semi-finalists, Brazil and the Netherlands, who may not have won, but Parker feels Nike is still positioned for success in the sector and said he sees no signs of soccer sales slowing. Nike has already overtaken Adidas in terms of boot sales in most countries, Reuters reported.

“The United States offers huge potential in particular, enthusiasm for football [soccer] is there in any case,” Parker said. “And in China there are tremendous growth opportunities.”