Every business landscape can prove challenging to navigate, but in today’s climate demonstrating resilience and adaptability is key when times get tough. At the 2018 CFO Leadership Conference, Rebook’s Craig Thornton, Vice President of Finance, and John Lynch, Vice President of CtC, shared their expert views and experiences on this topic and more. From the headquarters’ daring move to Boston’s Seaport District, to its new ‘Muscle Up’ Financial Fitness project, the duo shared how the business started exceeding goals in just 15 short months.

Reebok, founded in 1895, has gone through a transformation over the decades. From Bolton, England where the brand got its start, to being acquired by Adidas, to more recently forging an epic relationship with the global workout phenomenon, CrossFit, Reebok has been around the block.  So how did Reebok turn up the heat and start making more consumers sweat for its products?

Thornton says Finance, marketing and other business units implemented the Muscle Up Financial Fitness Project (if you’re confused, a muscle up is a harder version of a pull-up so it’s used as a metaphor for Reebok having to work even harder… get it?). This initiative improved the brand’s operating margin several points in just 15 months.

Aside from those strategies, Thornton and Lynch also discuss some key drivers of Reebok’s recent financial success.

  1. Design to Value Program: Reebok increased gross margin without raising a single price or compromising its product quality. How? They adopted new ways of developing and

    The 2018 CFO Leadership Conference

    designing for the consumer, used technology they hadn’t been harnessing to gain increased insight and implemented a step-by-step, scrum-like process. The latter asks what’s the idea and what’s the size of the prize? From there, Thornton says his teams develop business cases and then take those into project mode to identify initiatives and action items with due dates and owners. If the deadlines aren’t met, the owner is expected to report in and explain why, which has created a culture of exceptional excellence (and no missed deadlines).

  2. The move an culture change: Reebok relocated from Canton, MA to the big time—Boston’s Seaport District. The new collaborative space (that does not have any offices or assigned desks) fosters fewer time-wasting meetings and a more informal, get-stuff-done type of culture. Thornton explains their employees have had to change a lot, but everyone has been made an intricate part of that change. In fact, more than 75 percent of the staff has been involved in new projects since the brand’s transformation began. Thornton stresses that if your people don’t change, you fail.
  3. Retail landscape: It’s a tough one says Thornton, but keep your eyes on the prize. Reeboks strives to improve its distribution mix by closing a number of storefronts and investing in ecommerce to ensure premium execution. For CFOs in this environment, he reminds them to harness their creative side (even number crunchers have one).
  4. Growth: Ecommerce, key markets, women—Reebok has more than one trick up its sleeve so stay tuned. For now, Thornton and Lynch say authentic partnerships, a defined target market and constantly building new relationships (with everyone on the team taking action here, not just management) are key.

About Our Speakers

Craig Thornton, Vice President of Finance, Reebok
A 20-year veteran of the Adidas/Reebok company, Craig is responsible for the financial operations and business transformation efforts at Reebok. Craig has been the leading figure driving significant organizational changes and business improvements

John Lynch, Vice President of Marketing, Reebok
John is responsible for Reebok’s Global Business and Marketing Planning, Retail Support Licensing and Business Development. John drives the Reebok brand through all global markets. John first joined Reebok in 1999 and has held various positions in Marketing, Communications and Sports Marketing.

About The CFO Leadership Council

The CFO Leadership Council offers both live & online programs featuring expert panels and interactive sessions that drive meaningful conversation and leadership development among our membership.  Recordings of this and similar CFOLC sessions are made available to our current CFOLC Premium & Virtual members. Learn about our three-tiered membership options visit www.cfolc.com .

Want to Continue the Conversation?
We’d love to hear from you. Post a comment about your experiences or provide feedback below to continue the discussion about being adaptable in changing financial times.

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