Nike to slash 1,400 jobs, cut sneaker styles

Nike Job Cuts

NEW YORK — Nike wants to be more nimble on its feet.

The sneaker maker said Thursday that it plans to focus on the hottest-selling sneakers, slash the number of styles it offers and sell more shoes directly to customers as part of a restructuring in which it also will cut about 1,400 jobs.

Nike said the moves will help it offer products to customers faster as it is facing increasing competition from smaller brands and premium labels. Another problem: The running and basketball shoes Nike is famous for may be outdated.

More people are choosing fashion over function, with sales of classic sneakers industry-wide climbing 26 percent last year, according to research from The NPD Group. Meanwhile, sales of running performance sneakers were flat and sales of basketball performance sneakers dropped, according to the same report. “Nike missed the fashion shift away from performance basketball to retro,” said Matt Powell, an analyst at NPD. “They still have not caught up.”

Adidas, whose casual Stan Smith shoes have become popular again, has made a push to increase sales in the U.S. The German company said last month that first-quarter revenue in North America jumped 31 percent from a year before. And on the high end, Neiman Marcus noted to investors last week that sneakers, with an average retail price of $360 per pair, have become a significant business as shoppers focus on a more casual lifestyle.