Jie (James) Zheng, executive director and president of Anta Sports Products, is taking over the responsibilities of Heikki Takala, who has decided to resign from his role as president and chief executive of Amer Sports after ten years in the position. Takala, a former commercial director of Procter & Gamble, is moving into a new role as special adviser to Amer’s board of directors.
Zheng will be assisted by Michael Hauge Sorensen, who has been assigned to the newly created position of chief operating officer for the group, which owns important brands such as Salomon, Wilson, Precor, Suunto, Arc’teryx and Peak Performance.
Zheng, who will continue to run Anta, has been with the leading Chinese group since 2008. He was promoted from executive vice president of Anta to be its president at the beginning of 2017. He became a board member of Amer early last year as Anta became the controlling shareholder of the Finnish-based group as the leading investor in a consortium that took over the company.
Sorensen, who has spent 25 years in the global apparel and footwear industry, is described as a manager with “extensive experience in brand management, business development, omni-channel and value chain management.” He became an adviser to Amer’s board at the beginning of 2019. Among other functions, he has been since 2014 chairman and co-owner of the Swedish-based Fristads Kansas Group, which has a portfolio of ten workwear brands, and an industrial adviser to the Hong Kong-based EQT investment fund.
Jussi Siltonen, who has spent ten years at Amer like Takala, will remain as the company’s chief financial officer. Together, Zheng, Sorensen and Siltonen will form its executive committee. Amer says they will work closely with the company’s executive team, “empowering the brands to accelerate growth and adapt to the changing demands of the market, with a focus on product development, DTC-oriented channel operations and digitalization.
The change of the guard at Amer was probably planned. In February, just before the Ispo Munich show, Zheng was catapulted into the international scene as the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry named him as its co-chairman, along with Motoi Oyama, president of Asics and former president of WFSGI. Zheng has been on the board of WFSGI since 2014.