August 3, 2016 / 11:01 PM / 3 years ago

Nike to exit golf equipment business

(Reuters) - Nike Inc (NKE.N), the world’s biggest sportswear maker, said it would stop selling golf equipment, including clubs, golf balls and bags.

Jun 4, 2016; Dublin, OH, USA; Rory McIlroy tees off on the first hole during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The company, which built its golf business on the success of golfer Tiger Woods, said it would instead accelerate innovation in its golf footwear and apparel business and on partnering with more golfers.

Nike did not give a timeline for the planned exit.

The company is the second major sporting goods maker reviewing its golf business.

Adidas (ADSGn.DE) said in May it would sell the bulk of its loss-making golf business, hurt by waning interest in the sport, especially in the United States.

The number of people playing golf in the United States has fallen sharply after peaking in 2000, when Tiger Woods was in his prime.

For Nike, the problem is particularly acute.

A Nike-sponsored golfer hasn’t won a major golf tournament in the prior eight championships, according to ESPN.

Nike is also facing stiff competition from smaller domestic rival Under Armour Inc (UA.N), which has successfully lured top sports personalities to endorse its brands.

Jordan Spieth, last year’s no.1 ranked golfer, endorses Under Armour.

Sales in the golf business fell 8 percent to $706 million in Nike’s latest financial year ended May 31. It is one of the company’s smallest businesses, contributing about 3 percent to its total revenue.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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