Adidas eyes £500m profits as Samba surge helps brand shake off Kanye West saga

Adidas looks to have recovered from its bruising partnership with rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy as the brand predicted a return to profits of €700m (£598m) for 2024.

The German sportswear company has seen a surge in popularity in recent months with the reboot of its retro Samba trainer worn by everyone from high-brow fashionistas to prime minister Rishi Sunak.

The company said its quarterly operating profit had reached €336m (£287m), up from €60m (£51m) a year earlier when it was hit by its break-up with rapper West.

Adidas and West’s fashion label Yeezy were tied into a long-term collaboration and launched more than 250 styles of shoes together, including sneakers, slides and boots. But Adidas cut ties with West in 2022 over antisemitic comments he made on social media.

Trainers from the partnership are still coveted by enthusiasts across the globe, with the Boost 700 Wave Runner model fetching more than £400 at resale price with the shoe having quickly sold out at its height in popularity.

Adidas said the remainder of its Yeezy stock would probably be sold for about €200m later this year. Last year, it pledged to donate some of the proceeds of the sales to charities that work on combating hate.

Adidas’s CEO Bjorn Gulden, now in his second year at the brand’s helm, is gearing up for another era of fast growth at Adidas, as he hopes to close the gap with industry leader Nike.

Sunak in his Sambas (@rishisunakmp/Instagram)
Sunak in his Sambas (@rishisunakmp/Instagram)

The brand’s Samba model, a tennis-style shoe typically designed with a gum sole, a two-tone colourway and finished with the brand’s signature three stripes, is thought to be crucial to Adidas’s profit projections.

The shoe’s popularity came under the spotlight last week when Sunak was pictured wearing a black-and-white pair of the trainers at a conference at 10 Downing Street, leading Samba fans to accuse the prime minister of ruining the credibility of the shoe.

Some fans jokingly swore off wearing the shoe again and footwear historian Elizabeth Semmelhack told The Times Sunak’s wearing of the shoe could be “the death knell” for the retro trainer.

Following the social media outcry from a large group of Adidas fans, Sunak issued a tongue-in-cheek “fulsome” apology to the group who have been dubbed the “Samba community”.

The Adidas was first designed in 1950 (Adidas)
The Adidas was first designed in 1950 (Adidas)

Suank added: “But, in my defence, I would say I have been wearing Adidas trainers including Sambas – and others, in fact – for many, many years.”

“The first pair my brother got for me many, many years ago – my first pair of fun Adidas trainers as a Christmas present. I haven’t looked back since. So I’ve been a longtime devotee.”

Sambas, first designed in 1950 for a German football team, have become a staple shoe among fashion enthusiasts. Last year, English menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner released a leopard print version of the trainer in collaboration with Adidas, and the design now sold-out design fetches more than £200 at resale value.