PUMA® announces entry into Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009

Herzogenaurach, Germany, March 30, 2007

Sportlifestyle company enters Sailing and will be official supplier to the world’s premier offshore ocean race

 

PUMA® announced today that it will enter the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 with its own boat. In addition, PUMA will be the official supplier and the official licensee of replica merchandise for the world’s premier offshore ocean race. The race, known as the “Everest of sailing”, will begin in October 2008 in Alicante, Spain and will end in June 2009 in the Baltic. By joining the race, PUMA has entered a new premium category and is the first Sportlifestyle company to participate in a venture of this kind

“We are thrilled to announce PUMA’s entry into the Volvo Ocean Race – one of the world’s iconic sporting events,” said Jochen Zeitz, CEO and Chairman, PUMA AG. “Its global reach, lifestyle appeal and true sporting characteristics match the PUMA brand perfectly and provide PUMA with exciting new opportunities to make a strong mark in the world of sailing, on and off the water.
This continues our strategy outlined in Phase IV of our long-term plan to expand into new product categories and explore the potential of the brand.”

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Glenn Bourke welcomed PUMA’s involvement in the race. “Obviously I am delighted for the Volvo Ocean Race that a company with such global gravitas as PUMA has decided to come on board,” Bourke said. “What I am most pleased about is that a big consumer brand sees the race as a viable mechanism for promoting its brand and showcasing its products. This race is hugely demanding psychologically, physically and emotionally on everybody involved in it and we are confident that our new partner PUMA has what it takes to support the racers with high quality and innovative Sportlifestyle products.”

The PUMA Racing Team will be skippered by Ken Read. Considered one of the world’s most accomplished racers, the U.S.-born Read has twice helmed America’s Cup programs in 2000 and 2003. He was named “United States Rolex Yachtsman of the Year” twice and has over 40 World, North American and National Championships to his credit. Read joined the Ericsson Racing Team for the last four legs of the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race and was immediately “hooked” by the boats and the race itself.

“Running and skippering a Volvo Ocean Race program is a dream come true. I’m very proud to be part of the PUMA Racing Team and to take the lead in this new and exciting venture with them,” says Ken Read. “I believe PUMA is the type of company that the sailing world needs, which can think outside the box and deliver this sport to an entirely new group of consumers. It’s going to be an incredible journey for all of us.”

The entry into competitive sailing extends PUMA’s focus into premium lifestyle sports – a category PUMA has forged through its Formula 1 partnerships, motor sports collaborations such as Ducati, and the launch of a Sportlifestyle golf collection in 2006. Through this latest venture, PUMA continues its growth plan by entering yet another premium category. It is expected to launch the first collection in mid 2008. However, PUMA’s engagement will require initial investments already beginning with Q2 2007. Further details of the Volvo Ocean Race program will be provided at a later stage.

The legendary around-the-world yacht race blends state-of-the-art design and technology, elite sporting performance and extreme adventure into one global event. The Volvo Ocean Race began in 1973 as the “Whitbread Round the World Race”. It is a high-endurance, physically-challenging race in the world’s fastest monohull, where men and women compete at the top of their game, sailing continent to continent, in an easterly direction around the globe. The race takes approximately nine months to complete, covers 39,000 nautical miles in challenging and often dangerous waters, and is broken into 11 separate legs. The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 challenge will have at least 12 ports of call, including ports in Middle East, India and Asia – places never before visited in race history.