Puma is the world's #3 sportswear manufacturer. It has a longstanding historic rivalry with the #2 manufacturer Adidas, not least because the two companies were founded by brothers Rudi and Adi Dassler, former business partners who fell out in the late 1940s and spent the rest of their lives as bitter competitors. Rudi Dassler's Puma built up a strong following over the next three decades as one of the two leaders in sporting shoes and apparel but was unprepared for the dramatic changes in the sportswear market which resulted from Nike's spectacular growth in the 1980s. By 1990 Puma was struggling on the brink of bankruptcy. The company was rejuvenated from 1993 onwards by a youthful new management team led by CEO Jochen Zeitz. He continued to build the profile and prestige of the brand as it passed through a succession of different owners over the following decade, until becoming a subsidiary of what is now French fashion group Kering, also the owner of Gucci. Puma has made up for its lack of scale with a small collection of carefully selected endorsement partnerships, which delivered high profile at comparatively low cost. By far the most successful of these in recent years has been sprinter Usain Bolt, still "the fastest man in the world". A new and equally influential partner is the singer Rihanna. However, Puma's performance continues to lag behind its larger and wealthier rivals. In 2018, Kering announced plans to spin off the business to shareholders in order to focus solely on luxury goods.
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|Cobra Golf||Puma by Mihara Yasohiro|
|Puma+Alexander McQueen||Puma Sergio Rossi|
|Puma Black Label||Rudof Dassler Schufabrik|
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2018: Gucci and YSL owner Kering is to quit the sportswear business with a plan to spin off most of its stake in Puma to shareholders. It will retain around 16% of Puma's equity but distribute the rest of what is currently an 84% holding among Kering shareholders. A small proportion of Puma shares are already publicly quoted. The Pinault family's private investment group Artemis will become the biggest shareholder with around 29%. Instead Kering will focus its attentions purely on luxury brands. It also plans to sell its boardsports apparel and accessories brand Volcom.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Dec 2014: Puma secured a multi-year deal with singer Rihanna to make her the sportswear brand's global ambassador for women's fitness, and creative director for a new line of products to be launched next year. Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden said, "Although she's not an athlete, [Rihanna] is an icon for our main target group... She has, by her nature, been involved in the glamorous side of life and is also very sporty, which is the perfect combination for us... Rihanna probably has to work out more than many athletes to remain as fit as she is." For her part, the singer said "I loved their vision for the collaboration and especially the creative freedom. They didn't just want to throw my face on a billboard and call it a day."
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Aug 2014: Ads of the Week: "Forever Faster". The World Cup has been and gone but sportswear ads never stop. JWT New York's debut branding campaign for Puma displays a refreshing sense of self-deprecating humour that is so lacking in Nike and especially Adidas marketing. "Yeah, we're #3...," says Puma, "but we have loads more fun than those other guys." There's a star turn by Usain Bolt - and is that a very multi-racial Swedish handball team? - alongside other members of Puma's small but perfectly formed roster of star athletes. A good start, JWT.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Feb 2014: Luxury and sports lifestyle group Kering - formerly PPR - reported a lacklustre first set of results under its new name. Revenues for 2013 were virtually unchanged at €9.75bn, partly as a result of unflattering exchange rates, while write-offs of retail operations and a dismal performance from Puma (where profits plunged by more than a third) caused reported net income to plummet from over €1bn in 2012 to just €50m. However, even without those one-off charges, net income from continuing operations slumped by almost 37%. Currency fluctuation caused revenues from the core Gucci brand to slip by 2% to €3.56bn, its worst performance since acquisition by what was then PPR. Those declines were compensated by strong performance from Bottega Veneta, over €1bn for the first time, and Yves St Laurent. Puma revenues slumped by over 8% for the year (and by as much as 13% in the final quarter) to €3.0bn, and the sportswear label reported a dramatic €110m loss in the Q4. New CEO Bjorn Gulden acknowledged Puma's "lack of brand heat" but promised an ambitious relaunch in August this year as the "fastest sportswear brand in the world". In the short term, however, he warned that first half sales could show another decline.
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Feb 2014: Puma scored a rare victory over larger rivals Nike and Adidas, snapping up a five year deal to become official kit supplier to Arsenal FC, currently top dog in UK soccer's Premier League. The deal is reported to be worth £150m, slightly more than Arsenal's shirt and stadium sponsorship deal with Emirates airline. It's thought Nike, which had previously held the kit contract, stepped back from negotiations to avoid prejudicing talks to renew an equivalent and arguably more prestigious deal with Manchester United.
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