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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Nike gives board seniors the boot
Air Jordan 1, copyright Nike
Air Jordan Ones are a golden oldie Nike is proud of
Nike is to retire three elderly board members after media jibes about its increasingly geriatric image.

At 85, Chuck Robinson is the oldest to go; stumbling off the pitch with him will be John Jacqua, 84, and Richard Donohue, 77.

"There seems to be a movement that age matters," Mr Jacqua told the Associated Press newswire.

Sprightly Nike has won the race to be world's biggest sportswear maker by appealing to the yearning for fitness.

No longer fit to run?

"There comes a time when you look at a company's annual report and notice the directors' ages. And you say, 'Oh my God, is this an old folks home?'" said Mr Donohue.

When it comes to strategies for attracting young buyers, and those who want to feel younger than they are, Nike is long-in-the-tooth.

Its advertising strategy has focused on signing up top athletes such as basketball star Kobe Bryant and footballer Thierry Henry, the French international who plays for English Premiership champions Arsenal.

Its shoes have racy product names like Air Force One, Zoom and Uptempo.

And women buyers are targeted with a modern message - 'Racing to the altar? Not exactly' is the slogan on Nikewomen.com, which features a female jogger staying comfortably one jump ahead of a pack of pursuing males.

Nike relied on youth most famously when it purchased the famous swoosh logo from graphic design student Carolyn Davidson for $35 in 1971.

Leaving voluntarily

In a filing to the US stock market regulator, Nike said the three directors' marathon stint on the board would come to an end at its annual shareholders' meeting in September.

Between them, they have clocked up 86 years on Nike's board, according to AP.

As they enter the final straight, a Nike spokeswoman has denied that their departure from the team was to put an end to ridicule about the elderly look of the Nike board, whose members have an average age of 66.

"We have been aware of the criticism, but to say that the nominating committee will make its choice just based on age is wrong. We will weigh what they bring to the company," said spokeswoman Joani Komlos.

Mr Jacqua said the three were leaving voluntarily. "People who buy stock look at the age of the directors," he said.

"Most boards have an upper age-limit of 72, and we way overstayed that," said Mr Robinson.

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