(Bloomberg) — Puma SE wants to move upmarket in the US, with plans to sell more higher-priced soccer, basketball and running sportswear.
The German brand has focused too much on lower-priced sneakers and apparel in recent years in a bid to gain US market share, Chief Executive Officer Arne Freundt said Wednesday.
Puma now needs to cement its image among US consumers as a “premium sports brand,” the CEO said.
In his first news conference since taking over as CEO in November, Freundt said he wants to sharpen Puma’s positioning as a fun, but high-quality sports brand — especially in China, where it’s long been regarded as more of a “lifestyle” brand. The company will aim to outgrow rivals Adidas AG and Nike Inc., he said.
Freundt pointed to Puma’s successful return to the North American basketball scene as a blueprint for how it can gain more traction in other US sports like soccer and running. The company partnered with performer Jay-Z as it moved back into basketball while signing young NBA stars like LaMelo Ball.
Now, Puma has scope for growth with basketball-inspired casual products like the shoe and apparel line based on its collaboration with the NBA’s Kyle Kuzma, Freundt said.
Puma’s high-end soccer cleats and performance running shoes are gaining market share faster in Europe than in the US, showing there’s room for improvement, Freundt said.
The company has been hampered in the US by overemphasis on lower-priced products, exacerbated in recent months as inventories — particularly of apparel — piled up amid recession concerns.
While Puma shouldn’t phase out cheaper offerings, it needs to focus more on retailers that sell at the higher end, Freundt said, noting that the company has in the past failed to convince specialty running stores that it’s truly committed to that sport.
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