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IN THE LINE OF FIREMAN: REEBOK CHAIR MEETS WITH SHAREHOLDERS
Published May 6, 1998
Reebok Chair & CEO Paul Fireman told shareholders at the company's annual meeting yesterday that Reebok "has been less than I would hope for as far as sales and profits," and that "everything can be improved, including myself," according to Gregg Krupa of the BOSTON GLOBE. Fireman: "I believe that what we are experiencing today is a large bump in the road and not the death of an industry. We have now got, in my opinion, the best product line in the industry, and it has been heralded by most retailers as such." Krupa writes that a recent report on the "top-of-the-line" Reebok DMX 6 showed it outselling Nike's Air Triax by about three to one. Fireman said that Reebok's plan is to take "advantage of new strides in shoe technology and expanding markets" for its Rockport and Ralph Lauren footwear and the Greg Norman Collection of sportswear. Net sales of Rockport increased by $64.9M in '97, to $512.5M, including a 46% increase internationally. Meanwhile, Fireman said the Norman line is now one of "the top four brands in men's sportswear," and sales have increased by 35% in each quarter since the line was introduced in '92 (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/6). LITTLE PROTEST: The GLOBE's Krupa reports that "some stock analysts had suggested before the meeting that Fireman would face substantial criticism from some shareholders." When the meeting started, Reebok Investment Senior VP/General Counsel Barry Nagler announced the normal format had been changed. Nagler: "In response to shareholders, there will be more structure to the annual meeting to allow for questions and comments." But when it came time for shareholders to speak, only one "seized the opportunity." Gary Larsen of NJ asked Fireman to rate his own performance. Krupa: "So much for dissent" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/6).