Puma optimistic for 2016 as its plays down sale by owner Kering

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Puma is optimistic that new products like Rihanna women’s wear and running shoes promoted by Usain Bolt could restore the German sportswear firm to health in 2016, as it dismissed reports of a sale by majority owner Kering.

“We will start to see an improvement in the numbers next year,” said chief executive Bjorn Gulden, who was appointed by the French luxury goods group in 2013 to restore Puma’s focus on sport after sales were hurt by a shift into fashion products.

Shares in Puma rose around four per cent in early trading yesterday after Bloomberg reported France’s Kering was open to selling its stake after struggling for eight years to turn Puma around. Kering declined to comment.

Noting that such reports have repeatedly surfaced in the last year, Gulden told an earnings call he had seen no indication Kering was poised to sell, adding he was two-thirds of the way into a turnaround plan agreed with Kering.

After slipping further behind market leaders Nike and Adidas, under Gulden, Puma has focused on the world’s most popular sports like football, running and motorsport and launched a new drive to tap into booming sales of women’s sportwear by appointing Rihanna as creative director last year.

German rival Adidas has also given celebrities input into product design, with collaborations with Kanye West and Pharrell Williams helping drive strong quarterly results.