Our principal business activity is the design, development and worldwide marketing and selling of athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories and services. NIKE is the largest seller of athletic footwear and apparel in the world. We sell our products through NIKE-owned retail stores and through digital platforms (which we refer to collectively as our “NIKE Direct” operations), to retail accounts and a mix of independent distributors, licensees and sales representatives in virtually all countries around the world. Virtually all of our products are manufactured by independent contractors. Nearly all footwear and apparel products are produced outside the United States, while equipment products are produced both in the United States and abroad.
We focus our NIKE Brand product offerings in six key categories: Running, NIKE Basketball, the Jordan Brand, Football (Soccer), Training and Sportswear (our sports-inspired lifestyle products). We also market products designed for kids, as well as for other athletic and recreational uses such as American football, baseball, cricket, lacrosse, skateboarding, tennis, volleyball, wrestling, walking and outdoor activities.
NIKE’s athletic footwear products are designed primarily for specific athletic use, although a large percentage of the products are worn for casual or leisure purposes. We place considerable emphasis on innovation and high-quality construction in the development and manufacturing of our products. Sportswear, Running and the Jordan Brand are currently our top-selling footwear categories and we expect them to continue to lead in footwear sales.
We also sell sports apparel covering the above-mentioned categories, which feature the same trademarks and are sold predominantly through the same marketing and distribution channels as athletic footwear. Our sports apparel, similar to our athletic footwear products, is designed primarily for athletic use and exemplifies our commitment to innovation and high-quality construction. Sportswear, Training and Running are currently our top-selling apparel categories and we expect them to continue to lead in apparel sales. We often market footwear, apparel and accessories in “collections” of similar use or by category. We also market apparel with licensed college and professional team and league logos.
We sell a line of performance equipment and accessories under the NIKE Brand name, including bags, socks, sport balls, eyewear, timepieces, digital devices, bats, gloves, protective equipment and other equipment designed for sports activities. We also sell small amounts of various plastic products to other manufacturers through our wholly-owned subsidiary, NIKE IHM, Inc., doing business as Air Manufacturing Innovation.
Our Jordan Brand designs, distributes and licenses athletic and casual footwear, apparel and accessories predominantly focused on basketball using the Jumpman trademark. Sales and operating results for Jordan Brand products are reported within the respective NIKE Brand geographic operating segments.
One of our wholly-owned subsidiary brands, Converse, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, designs, distributes and licenses casual sneakers, apparel and accessories under the Converse, Chuck Taylor, All Star, One Star, Star Chevron and Jack Purcell trademarks. Operating results of the Converse brand are reported on a stand-alone basis.
Another of our wholly-owned subsidiary brands, Hurley, headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, designs and distributes a line of action sports and youth lifestyle apparel and accessories under the Hurley trademark. Sales and operating results for Hurley products are included within the NIKE Brand’s North America geographic operating segment.
In addition to the products we sell to our wholesale customers and directly to consumers through our NIKE Direct operations, we have also entered into license agreements that permit unaffiliated parties to manufacture and sell, using NIKE-owned trademarks, certain apparel, digital devices and applications and other equipment designed for sports activities.
Sales and Marketing
We experience moderate fluctuations in aggregate sales volume during the year. Historically, revenues in the first and fourth fiscal quarters have slightly exceeded those in the second and third quarters. However, the mix of product sales may vary considerably as a result of changes in seasonal and geographic demand for particular types of footwear, apparel and equipment, as well as other macroeconomic, operating and logistics-related factors.
Because NIKE is a consumer products company, the relative popularity of various sports and fitness activities and changing design trends affect the demand for our products. We must, therefore, respond to trends and shifts in consumer preferences by adjusting the mix of existing product offerings, developing new products, styles and categories and influencing sports and fitness preferences through extensive marketing. Failure to respond in a timely and adequate manner could have a material adverse effect on our sales and profitability.
We report our NIKE Brand operations based on our internal geographic organization. Each NIKE Brand geographic segment operates predominantly in one industry: the design, development, marketing and selling of athletic footwear, apparel and equipment. In June 2017, we announced a new company alignment designed to allow NIKE to better serve the consumer personally, at scale. As a result of this organizational realignment, the Company’s reportable operating segments for the NIKE Brand are: North America; Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA); Greater China; and Asia Pacific & Latin America (APLA), and include results for the NIKE, Jordan and Hurley brands. Sales through our NIKE Direct operations are managed within each geographic operating segment.
Converse is also a reportable segment and operates in one industry: the design, marketing, licensing and selling of casual sneakers, apparel and accessories. Converse direct to consumer operations, including digital commerce, are reported within the Converse operating segment results.
Product Research, Design and Development
We believe our research, design and development efforts are key factors in our success. Technical innovation in the design and manufacturing process of footwear, apparel and athletic equipment receives continued emphasis as we strive to produce products that help to enhance athletic performance, reduce injury and maximize comfort, while reducing waste.
In addition to our own staff of specialists in the areas of biomechanics, chemistry, exercise physiology, engineering, industrial design, sustainability and related fields, we also utilize research committees and advisory boards made up of athletes, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, orthopedists, podiatrists and other experts who consult with us and review designs, materials, concepts for product and manufacturing process improvements and compliance with product safety regulations around the world. Employee athletes, athletes engaged under sports marketing contracts and other athletes wear-test and evaluate products during the design and development process.
As we continue to develop new technologies, we are simultaneously focused on the design of innovative products incorporating such technologies throughout our product categories. Using market intelligence and research, our various design teams identify opportunities to leverage new technologies in existing categories responding to consumer preferences. The proliferation of NIKE Air, Lunar, Zoom, Free, Flywire, Dri-Fit, Flyknit, Flyweave, ZoomX, React and NIKE+ technologies throughout our Running, NIKE Basketball, Jordan Brand, Football (Soccer), Training and Sportswear categories, among others, typifies our dedication to designing innovative products.
We are supplied by 124 footwear factories located in 13 countries. The largest single footwear factory accounted for approximately 9% of total fiscal 2018 NIKE Brand footwear production. Virtually all of our footwear is manufactured outside of the United States by independent contract manufacturers which often operate multiple factories. For fiscal 2018, contract factories in Vietnam, China and Indonesia manufactured approximately 47%, 26% and 21% of total NIKE Brand footwear, respectively. We also have manufacturing agreements with independent contract manufacturers in Argentina, India, Brazil, Mexico and Italy to manufacture footwear for sale primarily within those countries. For fiscal 2018, five footwear contract manufacturers each accounted for greater than 10% of footwear production and in the aggregate accounted for approximately 69% of NIKE Brand footwear production.
We are supplied by 328 apparel factories located in 37 countries. The largest single apparel factory accounted for approximately 13% of total fiscal 2018 NIKE Brand apparel production. Virtually all of our apparel is manufactured outside of the United States by independent contract manufacturers which often operate multiple factories. For fiscal 2018, contract factories in China, Vietnam and Thailand produced approximately 26%, 18% and 10% of total NIKE Brand apparel, respectively. For fiscal 2018, one apparel contract manufacturer accounted for more than 10% of apparel production, and the top five contract manufacturers in the aggregate accounted for approximately 47% of NIKE Brand apparel production.
The principal materials used in our footwear products are natural and synthetic rubber, plastic compounds, foam cushioning materials, natural and synthetic leather, nylon, polyester and canvas, as well as polyurethane films used to make NIKE Air-Sole cushioning components. During fiscal 2018, Air Manufacturing Innovation, with facilities near Beaverton, Oregon and in St. Charles, Missouri, as well as independent contractors in China and Vietnam, were our suppliers of the Air-Sole cushioning components used in footwear. The principal materials used in our apparel products are natural and synthetic fabrics and threads (both virgin and recycled); specialized performance fabrics designed to efficiently wick moisture away from the body, retain heat and repel rain and/or snow; and plastic and metal hardware. NIKE’s independent contractors and suppliers buy raw materials for the manufacturing of our footwear, apparel and equipment products. Most raw materials are available and purchased by those independent contractors and suppliers in the countries where manufacturing takes place. NIKE’s independent contract manufacturers and suppliers have thus far experienced little difficulty in satisfying raw material requirements for the production of our products.
Since 1972, Sojitz Corporation of America (“Sojitz America”), a large Japanese trading company and the sole owner of our redeemable preferred stock, has performed significant import-export financing services for us. During fiscal 2018, Sojitz America provided financing and purchasing services for NIKE Brand products sold in certain NIKE markets including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa and Uruguay, excluding products produced and sold in the same country. Approximately 6% of NIKE Brand sales occurred in those countries. Any failure of Sojitz America to provide these services or any failure of Sojitz America’s banks could disrupt our ability to acquire products from our suppliers and to deliver products to our customers in those markets. Such a disruption could result in canceled orders that would adversely affect sales and profitability. However, we believe that any such disruption would be short-term in duration due to the ready availability of alternative sources of financing at competitive rates. Our current agreements with Sojitz America expire on May 31, 2019.
The athletic footwear, apparel and equipment industry is highly competitive on a worldwide basis. We compete internationally with a significant number of athletic and leisure footwear companies, athletic and leisure apparel companies, sports equipment companies and large companies having diversified lines of athletic and leisure footwear, apparel and equipment, including adidas, Anta, ASICS, Li Ning, lululemon athletica, Puma, Under Armour and V.F. Corporation, among others. The intense competition and the rapid changes in technology and consumer preferences in the markets for athletic and leisure footwear and apparel and athletic equipment, constitute significant risk factors in our operations.
NIKE is the largest seller of athletic footwear and apparel in the world. Important aspects of competition in this industry are:
Product attributes such as quality; performance and reliability; new product innovation and development and consumer price/value.
Consumer connection and affinity for brands and products, developed through marketing and promotion; social media interaction; customer support and service; identification with prominent and influential athletes, public figures, coaches, teams, colleges and sports leagues who endorse our brands and use our products and active engagement through sponsored sporting events and clinics.
Effective sourcing and distribution of products, with attractive merchandising and presentation at retail, both in-store and online.
We believe that we are competitive in all of these areas.
As of May 31, 2018, we had approximately 73,100 employees worldwide, including retail and part-time employees. Management is committed to maintaining an environment where all NIKE employees have the opportunity to reach their full potential. None of our employees are represented by a union, except for certain employees in the Asia Pacific & Latin America geography, where local law requires those employees to be represented by a trade union. Also, in some countries outside of the United States, local laws require employee representation by works councils (which may be entitled to information and consultation on certain Company decisions) or by organizations similar to a union. In certain European countries, we are required by local law to enter into and/or comply with industry-wide or national collective bargaining agreements. NIKE has never experienced a material interruption of operations due to labor disagreements.