Nike rocked by $100k sneaker scandal
One of Nike's most senior executives has been forced to resign after she was linked to her son's lucrative sneaker-flipping business.
Ann Hebert, the sportswear giant's vice president and general manager for North America, left her job Tuesday (AEDT) after more than 25 years at Nike, the company said in a brief statement.
Nike did not say why Hebert resigned, but her departure came four days after a Bloomberg Businessweek report detailed how her 19-year-old son, Joe Hebert, made hefty profits by buying coveted sneakers from Nike and other companies and reselling them on websites like StockX.
The younger Hebert got his start by flipping Supreme T-shirts in high school and went on to launch a company called West Coast Streetwear, which raked in as much as $600,000 in sales in a single month last year, the story says.
He claims to have monthly revenue of more than $200,000 - making profits of at least $50,000 per month in the shoe flipping industry now reported to be worth $2 billion annually.
But the teen also apparently had a little help from his mum - at least one of West Coast Streetwear's American Express credit cards was set up in Ann Hebert's name, according to a statement he provided to Bloomberg. The card was then used to buy limited-edition sneakers that he could resell at a higher price.
It is reported that the card in Ann Hebert's name was responsible for sneaker purchases of more than $100,000.
Hebert reportedly paid more than $200,000 for about 2,000 pairs of shoes he snapped up at Nike outlets as well as mum-and-pop shops and other chains like Foot Locker and Champs Sports.
"We know that Nikes have the most variety in styles and the best discounts on their more select shoes," Hebert's shoe-shopping mate, Justin Taliaferro, told Bloomberg.
Nike spokesperson Sandra Carreon-John told the outlet that Ann Hebert disclosed information about her son's business to the Oregon-based conglomerate in 2018 and did not violate any "company policy, privileged information or conflicts of interest".
There is also no commercial affiliation between Nike and West Coast Streetwear, "including the direct buying or selling of Nike products", Carreon-John reportedly added.
But that didn't stop Joe Hebert from being inspired by his mum's former employer - or using its shoes as a linchpin of his business.
Taking a cue from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Hebert and a friend criss-crossed the western US hunting down Nike kicks last year as the coronavirus pandemic crimped sneaker supply chains, Bloomberg reported.
Ann Hebert was named the head of Nike's North America business last year after serving as the company's vice president of global sales. In a press release announcing her new role, Nike said Hebert would be "instrumental in accelerating our Consumer Direct Offence" - the strategy of selling products directly through Nike's website, stores and apps that ended up helping resellers acquire hot sneakers more efficiently, as Bloomberg noted.
Nike said it would name Hebert's replacement "shortly", but didn't offer any further details about its timeline or who would fill her role in the meantime.
Joe Hebert's biggest score as a young shoe speculator came in January 2020. He'd just dropped out of the University of Oregon midway through his second term and moved back to Portland. There, he said, he tracked down a man he'd heard about who'd stumbled across an exceptional find in an abandoned storage unit: four pairs of Nike Mags, the futuristic self-lacing shoes worn by Michael J. Fox in 1989's Back to the Future Part II.
Hebert described finding the man and paying $22,000 for the collection, then flipping it for $42,000.
- New York Post
Originally published as Nike rocked by $100k sneaker secret