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Nike lays off more than 1,500 people as CEO says ‘I ultimately hold myself and my leadership team accountable’



Nike’s CEO John Donahoe blamed himself on Friday while saying the company was laying off more than 1,500 people—cuts that Donahoe said would “reignite our growth.”

In a widely reported memo announcing the 2% cut to Nike’s workforce, Donahoe added that he didn’t take the decision to lay off thousands of employees lightly and put some of the blame for Nike’s recent underperformance on himself and the company’s leadership. Portland, Ore.-based publication Willamette Week was first to report Donahoe’s comments in the memo.

“We are not currently performing at our best, and I ultimately hold myself and my leadership team accountable,” he added.

It’s unclear if any Nike executives would face repercussions for the company’s lackluster performance. The company did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

In a statement provided to Footwear News, a spokesperson said “Nike’s always at our best when we’re on the offense. The actions that we’re taking put us in the position to right-size our organization to get after our biggest growth opportunities as interest in sport, health and wellness have never been stronger.

The shoe and apparel company’s decision to cut back on its employees echoes similar moves made across industries in the past year. In January, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company’s “year of efficiency” changes instituted in 2023 would become permanent, after he saw that Meta had been able to “execute better and faster,” despite mass layoffs.

Other CEOs have also been quick to scale back their own workforces, with one tech analyst adding that the trend has “become contagious.”

In January, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the company would follow up 12,000 layoffs in 2023 with more cuts this year. He said in an internal memo obtained by the Verge that the cuts were meant to “…drive velocity in some areas.”

Discord CEO Jason Citron said in January that the company was laying off 170 people to “sharpen our focus,” and “bring more agility to our organization,” the Verge reported based on an internal memo.

In just the first two months of the year several other major companies outside tech, such as Morgan Stanley, Paramount, and Citi, have announced layoffs affecting thousands of workers.

In December, Nike said that it planned to cut costs by $2 billion over the next three years as part of a broad restructuring plan caused in part by weaker consumer demand. The Oregonian reported that prior to Friday’s announcement the company had been laying workers off in phases across several divisions including 

In recent months clothing and shoe retailers including Nike along with competitors Puma, and Adidas have cut future guidance and have warned that consumers are pulling back on their spending.

Still, the labor market overall has remained strong and the unemployment rate has remained steady despite analyst predictions of an impending recession. Employers added 353,000 jobs in January, much higher than the 185,000 jobs some analysts expected to be added. The number of employees let go so far this year is also far off from the more than 100,000 laid off in January and February alone last year, according to data from Layoffs.fyi.

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