American footwear manufacturer
New Balance’s headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, United States
|New Balance Arch Support Company and New Balance Athletic Shoe Company|
|Founder||William J. Riley|
|Headquarters||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|Jim Davis (Chairman)
Joe Preston (CEO)
|Products||Athletic shoes, apparel, sportswear, sports equipment|
|Revenue||US$4.5 billion (2018)|
Number of employees
|5,497 worldwide (2019)|
|Subsidiaries||PF Flyers, Warrior Sports|
New Balance (NB) is an American sports footwear and apparel brand that was established in 1906. The brand was originally associated with the New Balance Arch Support Company. Today the brand is associated with New Balance Athletics, Inc., an American multinational corporation and its parent New Balance, Inc., a Jim Davis owned holding company that owns New Balance Athletics, Inc. New Balance Athletics, Inc. and New Balance, Inc. are both based in the same headquarters located in Boston, Massachusetts.
New Balance is one of the world’s major sports footwear and apparel manufacturers and maintains a manufacturing presence in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom for the European market, where they produce some of their most popular models such as the 990 model—in contrast to its competitors, which often manufacture exclusively outside the United States and Europe. As a result, New Balance shoes tend to be more expensive than those of many other manufacturers. To offset this pricing difference, New Balance claims to differentiate their products with technical features, such as blended gel inserts, heel counters and a greater selection of sizes, particularly for very narrow or very wide widths. The company has made total profits of approximately $69 billion since 1992.
In 1906, William J. Riley, an Irish immigrant, founded the New Balance Arch Support Company (registered as New Balance Arch Support Company, Inc. and later registered as New Balance Arch Co., Inc.) in the Boston area, manufacturing arch supports and other accessories designed to improve shoe fit. His first product, a flexible arch support, was designed with three support points to provide greater balance and comfort in the shoe. It is believed that Riley came up with the name “New Balance” by observing chickens in his yard and demonstrated the way his arch supports worked by keeping a chicken foot on his office desk. He explained to customers that the chicken’s three-pronged foot resulted in perfect balance. In 1927, Riley hired Arthur Hall to be a salesman. In 1934, Hall became a business partner.. The company later on did business under the name New Balance Athletic Shoe Company. In 1956, Hall sold the business to his daughter Eleanor and her husband Paul Kidd.
Eleanor and Paul Kidd continued to sell mainly arch supports until 1960, when they designed and manufactured the “Trackster”, the world’s first running shoe made with a ripple sole. It was also the first running shoe to come in varying widths. The “Trackster” was given a big boost through the YMCA programs in which it became the unofficial shoe. College track teams such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University and Boston University adopted the New Balance Trackster for their cross-country teams, soon to be followed by other colleges and private high schools around the country.
In 1970, a new business entity called New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. was formed and replaced the original company, this entity would today become known as New Balance Athletics, Inc., beginning in 2015.
Marketing was mostly word-of-mouth or local sports fairs. Sales languished until 1972, when current Chairman Jim Davis bought the company on the day of that year’s Boston Marathon. At the time, the company consisted of six people making 30 pairs of shoes daily and selling products mostly through mail-order with a few U.S. retailers. Jim Davis bought the company under a business entity called New Balance, Inc., this is the third main business entity to use the New Balance name, but the first to be just called New Balance, eventhough the New Balance trademarks and product lines are associated with the business entity New Balance Athletics, Inc. Jim committed himself to uphold the company’s traditional commitment to individual preferences, customer service and quality products. His future wife Anne, who joined the company in 1978, focused on building a distinct culture for New Balance employees and customers. Their timing was perfect, as the Boston area became a center for the running boom that struck the U.S. in the 1970s. Their product line expanded and sales grew rapidly once the shoes made its way to Washington, DC in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The company prospered, and the Davises looked to expand New Balance into a global company. The company was run by Rob DeMartini for 12 years until 2019 when he left to join USA cycling. DeMartini’s background includes Procter & Gamble and Gillette Shave Company. Today, 30 percent of the New Balance shoes sold in the European market are manufactured at the New Balance facility in Flimby, England.
In February 2015, the company announced its entry into the global soccer (association football) market. New Balance had started its soccer business through its subsidiary Warrior Sports in 2012, punctuated by a $40 million-a-year sponsorship deal with Liverpool, but made the move to rebrand based on the global reach of the parent brand.
During 2016, New Balance opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership and condemned the Obama administration’s support for it, arguing that it would hurt their domestic shoe manufacturing (while Nike, which does not manufacture in the US, supported the TPP). Matt Lebretton, the company’s Vice President of public affairs said in April 2016 “I would say that when Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump all agree on something, then it has to be given a closer look; and they all agree that TPP is not the right policy.” After Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Lebretton told a reporter “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us [about trade] and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.” Some news outlets reported that an ad hoc boycott campaign was created out of an interpretation of Lebretton’s remarks as supportive of Trump. Owner and Chairman Davis donated almost $400,000 to the Trump Victory Committee in September 2016.
In February 2018, the company signed a sponsorship deal with the New York Mets baseball team. In November, New Balance signed NBA star Kawhi Leonard to an exclusive basketball shoe contract. In December, Chief Commercial Officer Joe Preston succeeded Rob DeMartini as New Balance’s president.
In February 2019, the company released its first Kawhi Leonard-signature sneaker, named OMN1S.
In February 2020, the company announced a multi-years sponsorship deal with the NBA, and launched its new line of Kawhi Leonard-signature sneakers, named “KAWHI”. Also in February, the company launched a FuelCell branded shoe with a carbon plate, after new running guidelines allowing the plates in competitive races were approved.
In March 2020, the company announced that it was converting some of its manufacturing facilities in New England to produce face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Balance’s manufactures a range of shoes and apparel for runners, other athletes and non-athletes. The company also collaborates with celebrities to launch branded product lines.
New Balances’ running shoes include its Fresh Foam and FuelCell lines, named for the type of foam in their soles.
The company markets a line of Kawhi Leonard branded signature basketball shoes. The first version was called OMN1S, and the second version was named “KAWHI”.
New Balance manufactures a line of baseball shoes that are described as a runner’s shoe with spikes. The underfoot is designed to relieve spike pressure.
New Balance Numeric is the company’s skateboarding shoe brand, which is distributed by Black Box Distribution, a company founded by professional skateboarder Jamie Thomas. The brand also consists of a sponsored team that is coordinated by professional skateboarder John Rattray. The team includes professional skateboarders PJ Ladd, Arto Saari, Brandon Westgate and Jamie Foy.
The company manufactures the Made in USA line of everyday sneakers known for being manufactured in the United States. It also manufacturers a line called Made by Women, created by women who work at New Balance’s design and manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts.
New Balance’s athletic apparel includes running caps, athletic socks and water bottles. The company also manufactures a line of everyday apparel including snap button shirt-jackets, windbreakers, long-sleeved shirts and track pants, as well as hoodies, sweaters and sweatpants.
Collaborations and brand ambassadors
The company has launched products in collaboration with apparel company Aimé Leon Dore, NBA star Kawhi Leonard, and British fashion designer Paul Smith. The company’s brand ambassadors include Boston Red Sox Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, entertainer Jaden Smith and US Olympic sprinter Sydney McLaughlin.
New Balance maintains a manufacturing presence in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom for the European market, where they produce some of their most popular models such as the 990 model—in contrast to its competitors, which often manufacture exclusively outside the United States and Europe. As a result, New Balance shoes tend to be more expensive than those of many other manufacturers. To offset this pricing difference, New Balance claims to differentiate their products with technical features, such as blended gel inserts, heel counters and a greater selection of sizes, particularly for very narrow or very wide widths. Between 1992 and 2019, the company made approximately $69 billion in profit. In 2017, New Balance’s facility in Flimby, England was producing 28.000 pairs of shoes a week.
The company owns the PF Flyers brand of canvas sneakers, and ice hockey and lacrosse sports equipment manufacturer Warrior Sports.
New Balance sponsors a variety of sports teams, leagues and individuals. Sponsorships include the New York Road Runners, which organizes the New York City Marathon, the National Basketball Association, major league baseball teams the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox, the Olympic teams of Ireland and Chile at the Rio 2016 Olympics, football national and club teams worldwide, US and European athletics teams, basketball, cricket, cycling, rugby, lacrosse, motorsports, Rugby league, tennis and skateboarding.
The company debut on the Olympics stage, dressing the Olympic Council of Ireland and the Chilean Olympic Committee at Rio 2016.
From 2013, New Balance has considerably increased the number of athletes it sponsors. Noticeable athletes signed by the company include Olympian Stephanie Twell and since 2015, they have sponsored the young rising star Trayvon Bromell. New Balance also sponsors athletics teams such as New Zealand and the Antigua and Barbuda national team.
The company previously partnered with Matt Bonner of the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s San Antonio Spurs, providing him with shoes over a period of several years. James Worthy from the Los Angeles Lakers also used New Balance shoes. During the 2010–11 NBA season, Bonner was sent a prototype for a signature shoe that he was developing with the brand, but the shoes fell apart at the beginning of the game that he first wore them in. After Bonner was informed that the prototype shoes were not meant to be worn, a representative informed him that New Balance was ceasing its sponsorship of basketball. In 2018 New Balance signed then Toronto Raptors small forward, Kawhi Leonard.
Following the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, New Balance signed a deal with Cricket South Africa that includes the national cricket teams of South Africa. From 2017, New Balance signed a deal with the England & Wales Cricket Board, to become kit supplier to the England teams. New Balance also sponsors the following international cricketers.
Following the official launch in July 2011, New Balance was the primary sponsor of Boston’s bike share system, the New Balance Hubway.
New Balance began a partnership with American professional cycling team EF Pro Cycling in 2011, providing the team kits as well as their “exclusive off bike athletic footwear” sponsor.
After its merger in 2004 with Warrior Sports New Balance began to produce lacrosse products, which then leads to sponsorships of players. They began with sponsorship of Major League Lacrosse then in 2018 after the Premier Lacrosse League announcement they became official sponsors of many different players.
New Balance produce playing kits for many rugby league teams including the Australian Stingrays.
New Balance Foundation
The New Balance Foundation was established in 1981. The foundation donates to national and Boston-based charitable organizations, and groups that support children and families with a focus on health, nutrition, education and physical activity.
In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against New Balance alleging that the company’s toning footwear touts unproven benefits. In support of its claim of false advertising, it cited a University of Wisconsin–La Crosse research study on toning shoes that was funded and published by the American Council on Exercise.
Researchers studying rival toning shoes made by Sketchers and Reebok reported that there were no “statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation” as a result of wearing the toning shoes. There was no statistically significant difference between participants wearing special “toning shoes” and controls wearing normal sneakers. The researchers concluded that there is “simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone.” However, it was noted that “These shoes may be encouraging a fair number of people who probably wouldn’t put on a normal pair of walking shoes and go out and walk.”
In August 2012, New Balance agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle false advertising claims.
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