Berkshire Hathaway’s running shoe company, Brooks Running, ended 2020 with global revenue of nearly $850 million, an increase of 27 percent year over year.
“In 2020, the Brooks team stayed very close to the runner for cues on how to navigate the uncertainty caused by global retail and supply chain disruptions,” said Jim Weber, CEO at Brooks Running. “We quickly found new demand signals to track shifts in running participation and shopping behavior and acted decisively to engage runners and gain market share in every channel of distribution.”
While markets were interrupted with inventory disruptions from the impact of COVID-19, Brooks’ market share grew around the globe. At retail, Brooks was the No. 4 adult performance running footwear brand in the U.S. in 2020 with 8.5% dollar share, up 1.8 points year over year.
In the same period, the Brooks Ghost became the No. 1 franchise for adult performance running in the total and run specialty markets combined.
Brooks’ investment in its consumer research Run-Sight Lab and singular focus on runners was a major advantage and contributed to 2020 success. With these insights, the brand quickly adjusted its communication approach and reinforced its omni-channel distribution support to engage with runners and make sure they could find Brooks whenever and wherever they chose to research and shop.
Brooks’ Sales & Operations team created a process that included a new demand model to replace retailer signals with cues coming from digital sell-through and running participation. By the middle of the year, this customer-focused process gave the brand the confidence that demand for Brooks was exceeding previous year sales, prompting a green light to reignite production to meet demand.
Brooks gained more than 3 points of performance running dollar-share among runners in 2020 compared to 2019 and for the first time ever became the No. 2 brand among runners based on dollar-share position*. Within the final two months of 2020, Brooks was the No. 1 adult performance running footwear brand in the athletic specialty/sporting goods (ASSG) channel, generating powerful momentum leading into 2021.
In 2020, during brick-and-mortar retail closures, Brooks sales online shifted north of 75%, stabilizing at 46% by year end. With the runner in control of their shopping journey, Brooks’ multi-channel presence mattered as they moved from physical stores to online shopping.
Brooks believes its ability to deliver on its “Run Happy” promise to customers starts within its own walls; when COVID-19 hit, the health and safety of Brooks employees was the company’s top priority. Over the course of the year, Brooks invested in developing its leaders and managers to lead execution and model the brand’s core values at scale via virtual engagements and platforms.
Over the past 12 months, Brooks’ active employee count surpassed 1,000 as the company added nearly 100 employees and retained talent with zero layoffs throughout the year.
© 2021 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.