CEO Bjørn Gulden on Puma’s comeback
To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, register here.
Germany’s Puma, the world’s third-largest sportswear company after Nike and Adidas, is having a strong year. Annual sales increased by 32% to 6.8 billion euros and profits of 557 million euros are the strongest results in the brand’s history. Additionally, Puma SE’s stock price has outperformed both Nike and Adidas over the past year, up 10%.
That still leaves Puma in third place in the global sportswear and footwear market, comprising outdoor, sports-inspired and performance categories, which is expected to grow 10-11% to $566 billion in 2022, according to Euromonitor. . Puma’s 6.8 billion euros annual turnover is still far behind the 19.8 billion euros of Adidas and the 44.5 billion dollars of turnover of Nike (38 billion euros). euros).
Over the years, the brand has tended to struggle with its identity in an ultra-competitive market. Kering, which previously owned 9.8% of Puma, clarified its position by selling 5.9% of its shares last year for $1 billion. Kering has reduced its stake in the brand since 2018, preferring to focus on the luxury sector. The Artémis Group, Kering’s largest shareholder, currently owns 29% of the company.
Puma’s strategic mistake, according to analysts and insiders, was an aggressive fashion shift beginning in 2009. Although there were some successes (Rihanna’s Puma x Fenty stands out), the company “has lost the clarity and warmth of the brand,” as CEO Bjørn Gulden, who joined Puma in 2013, put it in his first annual report.
Gulden, a Norwegian sporting goods and footwear industry veteran who started his career as a professional footballer, is candid about what went wrong. The company thought growth was all the rage and stopped prioritizing the performance sector, he says. “Puma was there for a long time, but then for a while the company left the performance. We fought very, very hard to get it back again.
It’s certainly not the end of fashion and lifestyle for Puma – it’s about balancing these sectors with the performance component. The renewed focus on performance has been reflected in recent years with a slew of deals with sports stars, ranging from footballer Neymar Jr to basketball star Kyle Kuzma. In 2021, Puma athletes won 75 medals at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Sales are now strong in running, football and golf, Gulden says.