Nike executive resigns over possible ties to sneaker resale business

A senior Nike executive resigned amid questions about possible ties to his son’s sneaker resale business and whether he used a credit card in his name for the company.

Ann Hebert, vice president and general manager of Nike’s North America division, “left” the company on Monday, Nike said in a statement.

In its statement, Nike said it would announce a replacement for her soon. Ms. Hebert, who had been with the company for more than 25 years, had made the decision to resign, the company said in an email.

His resignation came a week after Bloomberg Businessweek published an article about the rise of West Coast Streetwear, a company that buys and resells limited editions of sneakers and clothing. Ms. Hebert could not immediately be reached for comment.

West Coast Streetwear is owned by Ms. Hebert’s son, Joe Hebert, 19, who buys large quantities of highly sought after footwear, such as Yeezys and Jordans, to resell at higher prices. Purchases are completed using computer programs such as Cybersole, which are designed to increase opportunities to purchase limited-edition clothing from hundreds of retail stores that often set purchase limits. The article said that at one point Mr. Hebert and his team had spent $ 132,000 on hundreds of shoes and were able to resell them for a profit of $ 20,000.

The article also described a statement from an American Express corporate card that was in Ms. Hebert’s name and shared with Bloomberg Businessweek to illustrate the company’s resale income.

In the article, Hebert acknowledged that the Nike executive was his mother and said that she had inspired him as an entrepreneur. But he said his position at Nike was pulled from his job and that she did not provide him with inside information.

Neither Hebert nor West Coast Streetwear responded to requests for comment Tuesday. While a company website was down Tuesday morning, Hebert’s Instagram account featured images of shoe boxes from Yeezy, Jordan and other brands, some stacked and others strewn in what appears to be a warehouse.

Ms. Hebert was promoted to her role as vice president and general manager of the company’s North America division last April, and oversaw sales, marketing, merchandising and other areas, according to a statement.

A Nike spokeswoman told Bloomberg Businessweek that Ms Hebert had shared information about West Coast Streetwear with the company in 2018 and Nike had reported there was no violation of company policy or conflicts of interest at the time. Nike did not immediately respond to questions about its knowledge of West Coast Streetwear.

Sneaker swapping and reselling has been popular since at least the 1990s, but has boomed in recent years as demand for collectible footwear and streetwear has risen. The increase in business comes in part from so-called sneakerheads, customers who view items as investment assets. Major fashion brands have also caught on, buying stakes in resale stores like Stadium Goods.

Hard-to-find models can sell for hundreds or tens of thousands of dollars. For example, a pair of Air Yeezy “Red October” shoes can sell for more than $ 15,000, depending on the size.

Managing supply of certain shoes while demand skyrockets keeps buyers coming back, said John Kernan, a research analyst at Cowen, an investment banking company.

While some industries have suffered or shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the shoe and outerwear markets – both primary and resale – have thrived, according to a 2020 report from Cowen.

The firm estimates that the current market is at $ 2 billion with projections to reach $ 30 billion by 2030.

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