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NIKE Improves Innovation Quotient With Handsfree Labs Deal

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NIKE Inc. (NKE - Free Report) continues with its never-ending quest for innovation. It has invested and signed an exclusive intellectual property licensing partnership with Handsfree Labs, Inc to bring on the ease of getting in and out of shoes without the use of hands.

Handsfree Labs is a leader in hands-free footwear technology, which enables consumers to wear and remove shoes easily, avoiding the hassles of lacing and using hands.

The partnership is likely to take the Nike FlyEase platform to the next level. The platform, launched in 2015, aims at providing the ease of opening and closing shoes, without compromising on the fit and performance. The company recently launched Nike Air Zoom UNVRS, which is an addition to the FlyEase technology. The Nike Air Zoom UNVRS redefines how players get into shoes, with a FlyEase technology that uses a magnetized heel, which folds down and connects to the mid-sole.

With Handsfree Labs’ ‘easy on and off’ technology, NIKE is looking to broaden and enhance the FlyEase platform by removing the constraints related to shoes, making sports easier.

NIKE’s innovation efforts have been the key to its growth story over the years. Looking back, the company worked on minute details of shoemaking to provide comfort to athletes and common people.  NIKE is focused on doubling the innovation quotient, which is one of the primary aspects of its Triple Double and Consumer Direct Offense strategies. Powered by this, the company expects to create and scale up newer product platforms. It is prioritizing investment in platforms like React and Air, which have greater potential to strengthen the performance and sportswear categories.

Apart from innovation, other aspects of the company’s aforesaid strategies include 2x direct and 2x speed, which are aimed at delivering robust customer experience. Through 2x direct, it is building a close relationship with its customers by creating differentiated retail concepts, leading to mobile apps, dotcom and digital partners. It also continues to enhance and expand the NIKE digital ecosystem. With 2x speed, it is focused on meeting consumer demand faster and delivering more relevant personalized products.

The smooth execution of the offense strategy over the past two years has helped the Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company deliver strong currency-neutral growth. It expects the momentum to continue through the rest of fiscal 2020. The company expects results for fiscal 2020 to be driven by brand recognition, robust innovation pipeline and positive response from Nike Direct as well as wholesale partners. Management expects high-single-digit revenue growth on a reported basis for fiscal 2020.

Price Performance

Shares of NIKE have gained 28.6% in the past year, compared with the industry’s growth of 27.4%.


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