Sporting goods giant Nike Inc today (20 March) unveiled plans to reorganise its Nike brand into six regions with less management in a bid to make its operations more efficient and trim costs.

The Beaverton, Oregon based firm hopes the moves will also give it an increased focus on core categories and take it closer to its consumers.

Under the new proposal, the brand will target six new geographies: North America, Western Europe, Eastern/Central Europe, Greater China, Japan and Emerging Markets.

Previously, it was organised by four regions: US, Asia Pacific, Americas and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

"This new model sharpens our consumer focus and will allow us to make faster decisions, with fewer management layers," said Charlie Denson, president of the Nike brand.

The changes are part of an ongoing restructuring of the business which could lead to the loss of up to 1,400 jobs, around 4% of the company's global workforce. Nike employs nearly 35,000 people worldwide.

The review is due to be completed by the end of May, and the company stresses it will not know the exact number, timing and location of the job cuts until then.

Eunan McLaughlin, former vice president and GM for the Nike EMEA, will become the new president of the Nike affiliate portfolio reporting directly to president and CEO Mark Parker.

Lee Bird, the former president who led the affiliates for the last three years, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

The leadership team of the new global structure will be: North America - Craig Cheek (former VP & GM of US region); Western Europe - Brent Scrimshaw (former VP of EMEA brand management); Eastern/Central Europe - Marc van Pappelendam (former commercial director in EMEA); Greater China - Willem Haitink (former GM of China); Japan - Jim Godbout (former GM of Japan); and Emerging Markets: Jayme Martin (former VP and GM of the Americas region).

These positions will report directly to Gary DeStefano, president global operations.

Roland Wolfram (former VP & GM of the Asia Pacific region) will assume the role of head of global sales also reporting to Gary DeStefano.

Nike, whose other brands include Cole Haan, Converse, Hurley International, Nike Golf, and Umbro is also showing signs of being hit by the global slowdown in consumer spending.

On Wednesday it said higher costs, lower sales in Europe and weakness at its Umbro football brand almost halved third quarter profit to $243.8m, from $463.8m a year earlier.

Sales fell 2% to $4.4bn, with a 3% rise in US revenues and an 8% hike Asia Pacific offset by a 14% fall in EMEA sales and a 5% drop in the Americas.

The Beaverton, Oregon based firm also warned that worldwide orders for Nike brand athletic footwear and apparel scheduled for delivery from March 2009 through July 2009 - a key indicator of future sales - are 10% lower than last year, at $6.5bn. 

By region, futures orders for the US are down 1%, EMEA (which includes Europe, the Middle East and Africa) decreased 25%, Asia Pacific fell 1% and the Americas dropped 4%.