What a year 2011 has been! It was exceptional in many ways - for me personally in my new position as PUMA’s CEO as well as for PUMA as a company and brand. Our annual results have proven that PUMA is indeed ‘Back on the Attack.’ We managed to crack 3 billion euros in sales, reaching the ambitious 2011 target we set for ourselves. In terms of earnings we have posted bottom-line results that exceeded expectations. This underlines the facts that PUMA continues to be profitable on a scale which compares favorably to the rest of the industry and that the PUMA brand remains both strong and desirable. Much of PUMA’s success in 2011 can be attributed to the long-term strategic growth plan launched in autumn 2010 with implementation starting last year. I am pleased to see that our roadmap, aimed to unlock our long-term brand potential of 4 billion euros in sales by 2015, is already yielding fruit.
One aspect of this strategy is the increasing differentiation between PUMA’s Performance and Lifestyle categories. While we will stay true to our Sportlifestyle positioning as a brand, we want to strengthen each of our segments through more distinct approaches in terms of products, marketing and distribution. Our PERFORMANCE proposition features thrilling athletes, electrifying teams and exciting technical innovations while our vision of LIFESTYLE is driven by cultural relevance, urban style leadership and cutting-edge design innovation. We are the brand that joyfully mixes the influences from sport and lifestyle with the desire to contribute to a better world.
Last year we made big strides towards strengthening our roots in performance, particularly in football, by significantly expanding our sports marketing portfolio of brand ambassadors. We signed four of the hottest assets that international football has to offer: Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero and Yaya Touré of Manchester City, Radamel Falcao of Atlético Madrid and Cesc Fàbregas, the midfield maestro of FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. They will all feature as central figures in our global marketing programs in the coming years. We also signed a new sponsorship contract with the current German champions, Borussia Dortmund. The South African Football Federation also signed a long-term deal with PUMA. With a portfolio of 12 African teams, we remain the leading football sponsor on the African continent. All these strategic moves underline our ambition to be the clear number 3 brand in the world of football.
SHINING IN SPORT PERFORMANCE AND LIFESTYLE
But it was not just football where PUMA made headlines in the last year. At the Track & Field World Championships in Daegu, the World’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, once again stole the show, leading Jamaica to gold in the 4 x 100m relay and smashing the world record in the process. In our Sailing category, PUMA Ocean Racing – with our racing yacht Mar Mostro - is currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, aiming to go one better than their second place last time around. Our credibility as a sailing brand has also paved the way for partnerships with the America’s Cup Event Authority as well as the ORACLE Racing team. On top of this, we boosted our motorsport Formula 1 portfolio by extending our partnership with Ferrari and signing a new contract with Mercedes GP Petronas. In our Golf category, we excelled with our golfing superstars Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler. 16-year-old Lexi made history in September when she won the Navistar LPGA Classic, making her the youngest player ever to win on the LPGA or PGA Tour. Hot on the heels of Lexi’s historic win, Rickie Fowler claimed his first professional title, taking home the Kolon Korea Open. At the beginning of this year, world-class golfer lan Poulter signed with COBRA PUMA GOLF to sport our brand new styles of footwear and belts on the course.
Although we have been very busy in Sports Marketing, we have by no means been idle in Lifestyle. Throughout 2011, we continued with our successful PUMA Social campaign with collections that perfectly symbolize how we fuse Sport with Lifestyle in everyday life. PUMA Social is aimed at the ‘After Hours Athlete’ who thrives in nightlife and prefers playing darts, pool and table football with friends at the pub rather than sweating in the gym. Our After Hours Athlete enjoys the thrill of competition in a fun and social environment and the campaign allows us to communicate our brand positioning of ‘JOY’ and what the PUMA brand is about on every consumer touchpoint in the on and offline space.
PIONEER IN SUSTAINABILITY
All these strategic marketing and product initiatives are aimed at increasing PUMA’s brand desirability so that we continue on our path to becoming the most desirable and sustainable Sportlifestyle company in the world. And I am pleased to see that we made big strides last year towards achieving this goal – especially in the realm of sustainability where PUMA continued to be a pioneer. We established the first-ever Environmental Profit and Loss Account, which puts a monetary value on the impacts the sourcing, production, marketing and distribution of PUMA products have on the environment. It is the second year running we have combined the Annual Report and Sustainability Report as our sustainability initiatives are integral parts of our corporate strategy.
Another key area of this strategy is the transformation of our business model, also initiated in 2011 with the primary objective to create a robust platform for growth well beyond our current 5-year horizon. Our transformation program will lead to more integrated processes and systems, reduced time to market and increased operational efficiency.
THANKS TO OUR EMPLOYEES
Looking back, I can say I am truly proud and grateful that everyone at PUMA worked so hard in order for PUMA to be able to exceed the 3 billion euro mark for the first time. Ever since I took the helm in July last year, when PUMA transformed from a German stock corporation into a European company, PUMA SE, and Jochen Zeitz moved on to become PUMA’s Executive Chairman and a board member at PPR, I have met and continue to meet highly motivated and inspiring people at PUMA. It is you – our PUMA employees - who are the biggest assets of our company and I would like to thank every single one of you for your commitment and dedication to our PUMA brand. Please keep up the brilliant work, which we will definitely need in 2012 – because we have a lot on the agenda.
With the African Cup of Nations, Euro 2012, the conclusion of the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympics in London, this year is packed with major sports events that are all excellent platforms for showcasing and further increasing the global desirability of the PUMA brand.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to again thank not only all our employees at PUMA but also our shareholders and stakeholders for their continued support. I am exceptionally grateful for the trust they placed in me upon my appointment as CEO of PUMA and for their faith that I would be able to handle this job. This meant the world to me and made it much easier to enjoy a good start leading PUMA into the future.