Our strategy encompasses five strategic priorities: the repositioning of PUMA as the World’s Fastest Sports Brand, the improvement of our product engine, the optimization of our distribution quality, increasing the speed within our organization and infrastructure, and renewing our IT infrastructure.
The repositioning of our brand, which we began in 2014 with the largest brand campaign in company history, was clearly the focus of our activities again in 2015. Our objective is to demonstrate that PUMA is back in sports and that our brand has great assets and a distinctive attitude: Brave, confident, determined, and joyful. The second Forever Faster brand campaign, in which we invested several million Euros in 2015, focuses on our brand ambassadors and shows how they are training with PUMA products to get into peak form for the major competitions in 2016. Rihanna joined Usain Bolt, Arsenal London and other athletes for the campaign on a number of fronts, including the first TV spot for our training shoe IGNITE XT. Leading up to this, she ensured a high level of attention in the media and on social networks.
In 2015 we made great strides in further improving our product engine. The collections stood out for their clearer design, more innovative technology and the greater commerciality of the products. Not only was the feedback from our retail partners positive, but the significant increase in sales strengthens our conviction that we are heading in the right direction. The product highlights in 2015 include our new running shoe technology IGNITE, which we have expanded into a cornerstone of our Running and Training category with continuous new product launches – such as the IGNITE PWRCOOL and the IGNITE XT – since its market introduction in February. In Football, we continued to strengthen our position and further expanded our product platforms evoSPEED and evoPOWER. The new products include evoSPEED SL, which is now the lightest football shoe in the market at 103 grams. In Lifestyle, we introduced the first shoe styles inspired by Rihanna. The Creeper is Rihanna’s first sneaker under her FENTY label. The shoe received a great deal of attention on social media and in the press and the first color options were sold out within hours. In addition, we also introduced the boxing-inspired Eskiva shoe. We will introduce a complete women’s collection of shoes and apparel in 2016 working with Rihanna as creative director.
In order to improve the quality of our sales and distribution, we introduced joint product and marketing programs with our key retailers to showcase our brand in the right retail environment and drive sell-through with our partners. In 2015, we continued the roll-out of the retail concept “PUMA Lab”, initially launched with Foot Locker in 2014, both in the U.S. and in the first location in Europe. During the year we began collaborating with other well-known retailers with the aim of improving the presence of the PUMA brand in stores, better communicating our product promise on site, and thereby achieving a sustained sales increase. For example, we continued to expand our presence in major sports retailers such as Finish Line and Champs by adding new shop-in-shop systems, special shelving units and permanent in-store communication. We also developed a completely new Forever Faster store concept for the Company’s own retail stores. This concept was first introduced at the Group headquarters in Herzogenaurach and then in 20 additional locations during the year. The new store concept optimizes the presentation of our products and the related technologies and strengthens our position as a sports brand. To further expand our online presence, we launched an improved, integrated web shop and rolled it out in other markets in 2015. The continuous optimization of the website and our online product offering is a high priority for PUMA.
In 2015, we continued to optimize our organizational structure and setup by making them faster. One of the key projects was standardizing and optimizing the procedures between PUMA and its external suppliers by restructuring the sourcing organization to manage global order and invoice flows. We also simplified our organization in other areas and made processes faster. For example, our Sportstyle and Fundamentals product areas were merged under the leadership of a single manager. PUMA is also more efficiently organized now in the Europe and Asia/Pacific regions and can react more quickly to dynamic market influences.
We also made further progress in the modernization and expansion of our IT infrastructure in 2015. As part of this initiative, we have made it possible for additional markets to access a single ERP system and modernized the IT infrastructure at PUMA worldwide. In 2016, we will again focus on three areas: optimize our IT infrastructure, start the implementation of a standard ERP system to support our sourcing and trading functions, and set up platforms to improve the design, development and planning processes. We are very confident that our investment in these areas will lay the foundation for a fast, lean and efficient company in the future.