Nike to sell its products on Amazon for the first time

Nike, the world's largest footwear maker, said it would launch a pilot programme with a rival retailer that Nike has avoided working with in the past: Amazon.

Nike reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that topped Wall Street's expectations. Its net income rose to US$1 billion, or 60 cents per share, in the fiscal fourth quarter, from $846 million, or 49 cents a share, one year ago.

On a call with analysts and investors, Nike's management team confirmed a new pilot with Amazon, where the retailer will directly sell a limited product assortment on Amazon's US e-commerce platform. The offerings will include athletic footwear, apparel and accessories.

Nike agreed to sell to Amazon in exchange for stricter policing of counterfeits and restrictions on unsanctioned sales of its products, a person familiar with the deal had told The Wall Street Journal.

Nike hopes to "improve the Nike consumer experience on Amazon," CEO Mark Parker said, adding that the company is still in the early stages of this partnership and will continue to evaluate sales results.

While Nike's North America sales were flat, sales in Western Europe, its second-biggest market, were up 4% in the fourth quarter.

Sales in Greater China jumped 11%, the company said.

In China, Nike has revamped stores and increased online efforts with Alibaba's Tmall in a bid to reinvigorate demand in the world's No. 2 economy.

Two weeks ago, Nike announced a new, consumer-focused strategy that involves a leadership shuffle and the reorganisation of its reporting by geographic region. The plan, which includes the layoffs, sets its focus on a dozen key cities across the world that are expected to account for 80% of Nike's projected growth through 2020.