In the past few days, a long list of retail chains have closed their U.S. store locations out of precaution amid the rapid spread of coronavirus.
Nike, Under Armour, New Balance, Lululemon, Gap, REI, Patagonia, Columbia Sportswear, Urban Outfitters, and Abercrombie are just some of the apparel names that have closed all their U.S. stores for the time being.
Adidas (ADDYY) is going a different way from its peers.
In an email to Adidas and Reebok retail employees on Monday, obtained by Yahoo Finance, Adidas Group CEO Kasper Rorsted wrote that the company is not yet shuttering U.S. stores because of coronavirus.
“We have to keep the company going and open for business to ensure that we can pay our monthly bills and salaries to everyone,” Rorsted wrote. “Closing down is easy, staying open in a healthy environment requires courage, persistence and focus.”
Rorsted went on to write, “For all coronavirus-related decisions we will—as a general principle—follow local regulations as different regions/countries/markets are impacted at a different level at any point in time. In all regions and countries where legislation allows, we expect the leadership teams to be working from our offices on a daily basis… Where work is conducted from home, we ask for your utmost focus and dedication to do your job as good as possible every day.”
The letter from Rorsted does not mention any stores or regions being closed due to coronavirus.
In a followup email to Yahoo Finance, an Adidas spokesperson said that Rorsted’s email was not intended to suggest Adidas will not be closing stores, but the spokesperson would not specify any stores Adidas plans to close: “As of now, we continue to implement local authorities’ guidelines. These might differ, depending on country or region.”
A handful of Adidas retail employees, speaking of condition of anonymity, tell Yahoo Finance they are not pleased with the email, especially considering that Adidas’s sports apparel peers Nike and Under Armour already shut down all U.S. stores and will continue to pay retail employees while stores are closed.
“It’s ridiculous and I’m outraged,” says a store employee in New York City. “Seeing Nike lead the way in the retail closings and seeing a lot of other companies follow suit, it’s extremely frustrating. They’re waiting for someone to force them to close instead of being proactive.”
Meanwhile, an employee at a store on the West Coast says that at her store location, managers have cut employees’ shifts but say the store is not closing.
On the other hand, some employees applauded the move, like an employee in Chicago who tweeted: “I am THRILLED we are not closing. So many other people are losing their jobs right now but Adidas is giving us the opportunity to earn our money and provide for families.”
Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance who focuses on sports business. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.
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