Sporting goods group Adidas AG today (20 May) named the two executives who will oversee sales and retail for its Adidas and Reebok brands as it tries to strengthen links with consumers in local markets.

Roland Auschel will take on the role of chief sales officer, while Michael Stanier joins from Gap Inc as the new chief retail officer.

The appointments are intended to shore up changes announced earlier this month, which saw the company axe its regional headquarters in Europe and Asia in a bid to increase speed to market.

It also plans to grow its own-retail business.

The revamp should save more than EUR100m (US$134m) a year at Adidas, whose first quarter profit tumbled 97% after being hit by lower sales in all business segments and difficult comparatives.

Michael Stanier will be responsible for own retail around the globe in order to ensure a coherent approach across all markets.

With over EUR1.8bn in own retail sales in 2008, the Adidas Group wants to position itself as one of the top 250 global retailers.

In his new role Roland Auschel, currently head of region Europe/Middle East/Africa, will help all local organisations meet their targets through commercial strategies, balanced channel approaches and strong local trade development.

The Adidas Group's local managing directors will report into Auschel, but Adidas America, Greater China and Russia/CIS will report directly into Erich Stamminger, president of the Adidas brand.

Auschel and Stanier will report to both Erich Stamminger and Uli Becker, president of the Reebok brand.

"The new structure will get us closer to our consumer and accelerate our speed to market significantly, making our organisation faster, more effective and more flexible, " said Herbert Hainer, CEO and chairman of the Adidas Group.

"At the same time, it will strengthen the consistency of our brand messages globally by empowering a direct working relationship between global brand and marketing management on the one end and local markets on the other end."