Adidas has launched an investigation into allegations of bribery in China, following a complaint from whistleblowers.


In a statement, Adidas said it is “clearly committed to complying with legal and international regulations”

An anonymous letter accused staff of embezzling “millions of euros”. The letter is said to have been written by “employees of Adidas China”, sources told The Financial Times.

The letter names several Adidas China employees, including a senior manager who was allegedly involved with the country’s marketing budget, claimed to be worth €250m (£211m) a year.

It was also alleged that staff had received kickbacks from external service providers and another senior manager working in a different division in China is accused of receiving “millions in cash from suppliers and physical items such as real estate”. 

Adidas confirmed it had received the letter on June 7 and said in a statement that “it takes allegations of possible compliance violations very seriously and is clearly committed to complying with legal and international regulations and ethical standards where we operate”. 

It added that it was “intensively investigating this matter together with external legal counsel”. 

The sportswear retailer has faced problems in China before, such as when western brands were boycotted over their positions on cotton sourced from the controversial Xinjiang region, which reportedly uses forced labour.

China was once a main source of profit growth for Adidas before the pandemic but has seen a subsequent downturn in sales. However, the retailer now expects full-year profits to reach €700m (£591m).