No, Nike is not buying local shoe brand Bathu for R1.3bn

Theo Baloyi, CEO of sneaker brand Bathu, at his warehouse in Midrand, Johannesburg. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Theo Baloyi, CEO of sneaker brand Bathu, at his warehouse in Midrand, Johannesburg. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Oct 20, 2022


Johannesburg – Social media was sent into a frenzy after a tweet alleged that American sports shoe giant Nike was set to purchase local sneaker brand Bathu.

In the tweet, it was claimed that Nike had offered to buy Bathu for a whooping $75 million (over R1.3 billion).

The tweet by user @JanVanPotgieter read: “The world's biggest clothing brand Nike has offered to buy Bathu for $75 million. Now we wait to see if Bathu will take the offer.”

The claim sent Twitter into overdrive with users weighing in on whether Bathu founder Theo Baloyi should sell or not. In some quarters the claim was met with scepticism.

One user, @bangisisi1, felt that the alleged offer of $75m (R1.3bn) was way below par, calling it a slap in the face.

Bathu has since moved to dispel the claims of a proposed or imminent sale. They did so via a clever tweet referencing the tag lines of both Nike and Bathu which read: “They just can’t do it. We’re still Walking Our Journey.”

Speaking to IOL , Thando Mashalaba, spokesperson for Bathu said: “We know about the tweet and its absolutely false. We are not selling to Nike or any other brand.”

Mashalaba expanded on “exciting” plans the brand has such as its recently launched Switch 1120 and Bathu’s eagerly awaited slides which are set to drop in November.

Bathu, which is slang for shoe in many South African townships, was founded by accountant-turned-entrepreneur Theo Baloyi in 2015. He launched the brand with only 100 shoes and sold them to his friends and acquaintances.

He has come a long way since then and now owns over 34 stores countrywide. These are complemented by an e-commerce strategy which allows consumers to purchase and customise their sneakers from the comfort of their homes.

During the recent launch of Bathu’s concept store in Sandton City, Baloyi spoke of his desire to make Bathu sneakers accessible to people from all walks of life.

“Anyone who knows me well will be able to tell you that my vision is to see lovely brown children achieve the seemingly impossible in this world. I’ve always wanted to make sure that people have access to high-quality shoes and can buy them in locations that appreciate the uniqueness of each of us,” he said.

In 2021, Bathu was ranked 9th out of Africa's top 10 most recognisable brands.

Theo Baloyi’s hard work has not gone unnoticed and has garnered him awards and accolades from far and wide, including making it onto the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019.

Bathu founder and CEO at the Bathu fashion show, an official launch of the Switch 1120 Picture: Supplied/Masterpic

Some of the awards won by Theo Baloyi and his Bathu brand include:

  • All Africa Young Business Leader of the Year – All Africa Business Leader Awards (2022).
  • Africa Entrepreneur of the Year – Africa Choice Awards (2021).
  • CEO of the Year – Future of HR Awards (2021).
  • Businessman of the Year – BBQ Awards (2020).
  • Hennessy XO Businessman of the Year Award – BBQ Awards (2020).
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year – South African Business Premier Awards (2019).
  • Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 (2019).
  • Fastest Growing Business Brand – National Business Awards (2019).

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