As if things weren’t already difficult in sailing, Thursday’s announcement from Puma could make them even tougher. The German sportswear manufacturer presented its financial results for the first half of the year and the best way one could describe them is lackluster. Puma seems to be struggling against Nike and Adidas and if it weren’t for the very good performance of the Italian soccer team, sponsored by Puma, that reached the Euro 2012 finals, the picture could even be bleaker.
Why should you care about the financial details of Puma in such details? Because, as stated in the company’s press release, “collaboration and endorsement contracts that are either not viable or in line with PUMA’s long-term strategy will be terminated.” For anyone even slightly related to grand-prix sailing Puma is well-known for its high-profile sponsorship deals in the Volvo Ocean Race. The German company is the official merchandising of the two organizations in addition to Oracle Team USA and also is the main backer of Puma Ocean Racing, the team skippered by Ken Read that finished third in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.
No details were provided on the performance of the Puma’s sailing sponsorships but Antonio Bertone, Puma’s Chief Marketing Officer, had set the bar very high at least for Puma Ocean Racing. I’m sure he must have been kicking Ken Read’s ass during the month of July… Seriously though, one hopes that the return has been good enough even without a victory. In the 2008-9 edition of the round-the-world race, when the fleet visited Boston, the Puma store in the race village had its cash registers ringing all week long. In fact, in the stopover’s final weekend Puma sold more merchandise in that store than any other Puma-branded store in the world!
It would certainly be a major blow if Puma abandoned the sport of sailing. One thing is for sure, according to the press release, Antonio Bertone will leave the company by the end of 2012.
Here’s the reply we received by Kerstin Neuber, Head of Corporate Communications, to our question whether Puma’s sponsorship deals in the America’s Cup or the Volvo Ocean Race would be affected:
Dear Mr. Orphanidis,
thank you very much for your inquiry and interest in PUMA.
We are currently assessing all endorsement contracts and will come to decisions once the analysis has been concluded. When this is the case, PUMA will be announcing which contracts and sponsorships will continue and which will terminate.
Thank you very much for your understanding that we cannot be more precise at the moment.
Head of Corporate Communications