German sportswear firm Puma has seen such strong demand for products promoted by celebrities like model Cara Delevingne, Canadian rapper The Weeknd, and of course, Rihanna, who maintains her own line with the brand, that its supply chain is racing to keep up, its chief executive said on Tuesday. The news comes on the heels of recurring rumors that Kering SA was open to selling its majority stake in the company after struggling for eight years to turn around the German sporting-goods maker.
Appointed in 2013 by majority-owner French luxury goods company Kering, Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden has invested heavily in celebrity marketing to revive a brand that still lags market leaders Nike and Adidas. He said Puma had been out of stock on many lines, prompting it to pull forward orders booked for the second quarter, with its suppliers working hard to meet demand.
"We need to make sure we don't oversell certain lines. We need to control growth in partnership with retailers," he said, highlighting demand for retro basketball shoes worn by Delevingne and "Limitless" sneakers launched by The Weeknd in February.
Gulden's comments come after Puma reported that first-quarter sales jumped a currency-adjusted 15.4 percent to 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion), while net profit almost doubled to 49.6 million. The Puma share price has been supported by speculation that Kering might consider a sale. Gulden said on Tuesday he has not heard anything about a possible sale.
Like German rival Adidas, which reports results on May 4, Puma has been enjoying a revival in the U.S. market, helped by a shift toward retro styles and away from basketball shoes which has hurt Under Armour and dented Nike's success. Puma said sales rose a currency-adjusted 17 percent in the Americas and 15.9 percent in Europe, Middle East and Africa, with footwear sales up almost a quarter, outpacing its apparel and accessories business.