The Adidas and Reebok brands will be treated like two brothers who compete against each other, retaining a similar position in the market while specializing in different sports, said Robert Langstaff, freshly minted president of Adidas America, at an industry forum animated by John Shanley during the WSA footwear show in Las Vegas last Saturday. Addressing suspicions that Reebok will be moved into a lower segment of the market, the chief executive of the group, Herbert Hainer says Reebok will focus more than in the past on performance, spending more money on communication. It also intends to continue developing its connection to music.

Speaking via satellite , Hainer indicated that the Reebok brand will be more difficult to market in Europe than in the USA. In the USA, the brand has a greater connection with the urban consumer via NBA basketball and sponsoring deals with the league’s athletes. In Europe, the brand has a much different presence and is less developed.

Adidas has already started to slim down excess inventories of Reebok products, drawing criticism from K-Swiss for the effect of this process on its own sales of Classics in the U.S. market. Indicating that the clean-up is almost finished, Hainer is anticipating good results for Reebok from the 3rd quarter onward.

Speaking about the FIFA World Cup before Nike’s presentation in Berlin, Adidas reiterated that its football sales in 2006 will “significantly” exceed €1 billion ($1.2 billion) this year, but Adidas officials have so far declined to provide precise turnover figures or expected growth rates. Adidas claims a 35 percent market share globally in the category and says it will easily remain number one.

After Nike divulged its own football numbers, Adidas officials questioned them, pointing to market research showing that Adidas had a market share of 34 percent in the European football boot market during the 12-month period ended last June, or the same as Nike, and 55 market share in North America, compared with only 24 percent for Nike (the latter says it was 27 percent). Puma was a distant third in both markets with shares of 8 percent in Europe and 3 percent in North America.

Adidas says it expects to sell more than 10 million +Teamgeist balls, more than 1.5 million jerseys, more than 1.2 million FIFA licensed products, more than one million pairs of the Predator boot and over one million F50+ Tunit boots. Launched last month, the +F50 Tunit technology allows players to customize, adapt and tune their boots to different weather conditions and playing styles by mixing and matching its components.