Adidas AG is terminating its partnership with Kanye West immediately, the sporting goods maker said on Tuesday (Oct 25), reacting to a rash of offensive behaviour from the American rapper and designer.
“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the German company said.
“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” it said, using the rapper’s artist name.
A lawyer representing Kanye West did not respond to a request for comment.
Ending the partnership and the production of Yeezy branded products, as well as stopping all payments to Ye and his companies will “have a short-term negative impact” of up to US$250 million” on Adidas’ net income this year, the company said, partially as the Christmas quarter tends to see greater demand usually.
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 due to outbursts on social media against other celebrities. His Twitter and Instagram accounts were restricted, with the social media platforms removing some of his online posts that users condemned as antisemitic.
In now-deleted Instagram posts from earlier this year, the multiple Grammy award-winning artist accused Adidas and US apparel retailer Gap 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 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, which produced several hot-selling “Yeezy” branded Adidas sneakers that cost between US$200 and US$700, helped the German brand close the gap with Nike in the US market.
Yeezy generates about €1.5 billion (US$1.47 billion) in annual sales for Adidas, making up a little over 7 per cent of its total revenue, according to estimates from Telsey Advisory Group.
Shares in Adidas, which cut its full-year forecast last week, were down about 3.8 per cent. The group said it would provide more information as part of its upcoming Q3 earnings announcement on Nov 9.