Adidas planning to end its partnership with Kanye West over rash of ‘offensive behavior’

GERMAN SPORTING goods maker Adidas AG plans to end its partnership with Kanye West, following a rash of offensive behavior from the American rapper and designer, Bloomberg News said on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Adidas may announce the move as early as Tuesday, the report added.

The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment, while a lawyer representing Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adidas put the partnership under review earlier in October “after repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation.”

Ye has courted controversy in recent months by publicly ending major corporate tie-ups and for outbursts on social media against other celebrities. His Twitter and Instagram accounts were restricted, with the social media platforms saying they removed his posts that online users condemned as anti-Semitic.

In now-deleted Instagram posts from earlier this year, the multiple Grammy award-winning artist accused Adidas and US apparel retailer Gap, Inc. of failing to build contractually promised permanent stores for products from his Yeezy fashion line.

He also accused Adidas of stealing his designs for its own products.

Gap and Ye ended their partnership in September. European fashion house Balenciaga has also cut ties with Ye, according to media reports.

Adidas poached Ye from rival Nike, Inc. in 2013 and agreed to a new long-term partnership in 2016 in what the company then called “the most significant partnership created between a non-athlete and a sports brand.”

The tie-up has produced several hot-selling “Yeezy” branded Adidas sneakers that could cost anywhere between $200 and $700. The partnership also helped the German brand close the gap with Nike in the US market.

Yeezy generates about 1.5 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in annual sales for Adidas, making up a little over 7% of the company’s total revenue, according to estimates from Telsey Advisory Group.

Shares of the company, which cut its full-year forecast last week, were down about 3% on the report. — Reuters