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TOP TEN
8.  R E E B O K   I N T E R N A T I O N A L

Paul Fireman
In Reebok's annual report, chairman Paul B. Fireman noted that managers "had an excellent year in 2001, making solid progress in their quest to make the brand more relevant."   (Globe File Photo)

Bid to woo young consumers begins to reap rewards

    Top 10 Companies

1. Charles River Labs
2. TJX
3. Perini
4. Investors Fin. Svcs.
5. Gillette
6. Staples
7. OneSource
8. Reebok
9. Bright Horizons
10. State Street

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Revving up marketing campaigns heavy on hip-hop, Reebok International Ltd. hopes to use music to woo young consumers.

Last fall, Canton-based Reebok debuted an initiative with the theme song "It's a Woman's World." And early this year, a second campaign sought to add excitement to its athletic footwear and apparel with the story line of "the sounds and rhythm of sport."

For much of the 1990s, archrival Nike Inc. was deemed more trendy. On the rebound with a mostly new management team under longtime chairman and chief executive Paul B. Fireman, Reebok has attempted to give itself a massive transfusion of attitude and street credibility by associating with recording artists as well as with sports icons such as Allen Iverson and Venus Williams.

In another bid to be cool and improve sales, Reebok increased its offerings of lifestyle products, thanks to recent licensing deals with the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the Women's National Basketball Association.

In 2001, sales rose 4.5 percent to $2.99 billion as a strong dollar hurt international sales. Also slowing performance was Reebok's Rockport brand.

Rockport shoes are mostly sold in department stores, which lost business as a recession had consumers seeking value at lower-price stores. Thanks in part to efficiencies, profits increased 27 percent to $102.7 million.

In the annual report, Fireman noted that Reebok managers "had an excellent year in 2001, making solid progress in their quest to make the brand more relevant and aspirational to young men and women."

CHRIS REIDY


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