The entry of Puma into the sailing clothing market helped the sport immensely. However a 70 percent drop in profits and a reorganisation of the management team will see the brand pull out of sailing.
It was already widely known the Puma would not embark on another Volvo Ocean Race campaign. Puma used the offshore race to launch its foray into technical marine clothing with some great sports marketing and activation – the likes of which the sport had not previously seen.
But the investment in sailing, which includes sponsorship of the America’s Cup at a series level and sponsorship of the Defender, Oracle Team USA will end as the the sportswear company concentrates on the mass market appeal of running and football. The company will also stop sponsorship of Rugby Union.
Earnings have fallen as a result of restructuring, but are expected to improve this year. Sales this year are expected to remain on a level with 2012′s total of 3.27 billion euros. Net earnings dropped to 70.2 million euros from 230 million in 2011 as a result of costs of a 98 million euro payout in Spain to reclaim trademark rights from a former licence holder and costs for closing operations in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria.
While the sport of sailing is better for having had Puma invest in it, the brand never really made it work at a retail level. Puma sailing clothing was not visible anywhere away from a race village promotional area and most sailors would not think of Puma first when they were looking for new gear.
Puma CEO Franz Koch, will leave Puma at the end of March, after less than two years as chief executive. Until a new chief executive is installed Chief Financial Officer Michael Laemmermann and Chief Commercial Officer Stefano Caroti are to lead the company with support from PPR’s Jean-Francois Palus, who chairs the Puma supervisory board.
Puma’s short time in sailing has had a massive impact on the sport. The sports marketing smarts that the company developed in football and athletics were applied to sailing and other sponsors realised that they had to up their game. Puma helped to build a new audience for sailing by cross-pollinating their relationships with fashion bloggers and influencers and also used their relationships with sponsored athletes in other sports to turn people’s heads in the direction of sailing.