German clothing and consumer goods manufacturer
Puma SE, branded as Puma, is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures athletic and casual footwear, apparel and accessories, which is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. Puma is the third largest sportswear manufacturer in the world. The company was founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler. In 1924, Rudolf and his brother Adolf “Adi” Dassler had jointly formed the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). The relationship between the two brothers deteriorated until the two agreed to split in 1948, forming two separate entities, Adidas and Puma. Both companies are currently based in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Puma has been a public company since 1986, listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. French luxury group Kering (formerly known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute or PPR) holds 16%, Kering’s largest shareholder Artemis SA owns 29% of the share capital. Since 1 July 2013, the company has been led by former football professional Bjørn Gulden (CEO).
As of 2017, Puma SE employs more than 13,000 people worldwide and distributes its products in more than 120 countries.
Following the split from his brother, Rudolf originally registered the newly established company as Ruda (derived from Rudolf Dassler, as Adidas was based on Adi Dassler), but later changed the name to Puma. Puma’s earliest logo consisted of a square and beast jumping through a D, which was registered, along with the company’s name, in 1948. Puma’s shoe and clothing designs feature the Puma logo and the distinctive “Formstrip” which was introduced in 1958.
Puma offers products for Basketball, Football, Running, Training and Fitness, Golf, Motorsports and Sportstyle. It has sponsored a number of legendary athletes, including Pelé, Eusébio, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Clyde Frazier, Jim Hines, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, Tommie Smith, Joe Namath, Linford Christie, Colin Jackson, Heike Drechsler and Michael Schumacher among others.
Currently, international footballers, including Neymar,
Sergio Agüero, Antoine Griezmann, Marco Reus, Romelu Lukaku, Luis Suárez, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and many more are sporting Puma football boots.
In terms of football clubs, Puma sponsors Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City F.C., Olympique de Marseille, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Crystal Palace F.C., Newcastle United F.C., Valencia CF, AC Milan, Bengaluru FC and many others. National football teams include Italy, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, Morocco, Egypt and Uruguay.
In Athletics (Track and Field), Puma sponsors several athletic associations such as the Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominican, Barbados, Portugal, Switzerland and Norway. It also has the world’s fastest man and Jamaican track athlete Usain Bolt under contract along with other track and field athletes like Andre Degrasse, Karsten Warholm and Gianmarco Tamberi. Over the past decades, several world records were achieved by athletes wearing PUMA shoes, such as Heinz Futterer (1954), Armin Hary (1960), Jim Hines (1976), Tommie Smith (1968), Asafa Powell (2005), and Usain Bolt (2009).
In 2018 Puma announced its entrance back into basketball after a break of almost 20 years. The brand appointed Jay-Z as Creative Director of Puma basketball.Marvin Bagley, Deandre Ayton, Zhaire Smith, and Michael Porter Jr. are the first players to join PUMA’s basketball roster and play in performance PUMA basketball shoes.
Also, Puma made its partnership with Netball after 28 years by sponsoring the Melbourne Vixens, the only netball team to be partnered with the global firm
From 2018 Puma became the official apparel sponsor of New Zealand’s national netball team, the Silver Ferns.
The firm sponsors Indian cricketer Virat Kohli the captain of the India cricket team. Golfers such as Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau and Lexi Thompson are equipped by Puma’s golf brand Cobra Puma Golf.
In Formula 1, Puma equips the teams of Mercedes AMG Petronas, Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing. In addition, Puma also sponsors BMW and Porsche in all its Motorsports activities.
In order to support its women’s business, PUMA endorses supermodel Cara Delevingne and Adriana Lima as well as actress/singer Selena Gomez.
The company has a few dozen small corporate offices around the world, and four “international hubs”: Boston, Massachusetts (moving to Assembly Row, Somerville, Massachusetts); Hong Kong; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Christoph von Wilhelm Dassler was a worker in a shoe factory, while his wife Pauline ran a small laundry in the Franconian town of Herzogenaurach, 20 km (12.4 mi) from the city of Nuremberg. After leaving school their son, Rudolf Dassler, joined his father at the shoe factory. When he returned from fighting in World War I, Rudolf was trained as a salesman at a porcelain factory, and later in a leather trading business in Nuremberg.
In 1924, Rudolf and his younger brother, Adolf, nicknamed “Adi”, founded a shoe factory. They named the new business “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) which was the only business at the time that manufactured sports shoes. The pair started their venture in their mother’s laundry. At the time, electricity supplies in the town were unreliable, and the brothers sometimes had to use pedal power from a stationary bicycle to run their equipment. In 1927, they moved into a separate building.
The brothers drove from Bavaria to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin with a suitcase full of spikes and persuaded United States sprinter Jesse Owens to use them, the first sponsorship for an African American. Owens won four gold medals. Business boomed; the Dasslers were selling 200,000 pairs of shoes annually before World War II.
Both brothers joined the Nazi Party, but Rudolf was slightly closer to the party. A growing rift between the brothers reached a breaking point during a 1943 Allied bomb attack. Adi and his wife climbed into a bomb shelter that Rudolf and his family were already in. “Here are the bloody bastards again,” Adi remarked, apparently referring to the Allied war planes, but Rudolf, due to his apparent insecurity, was convinced his brother meant him and his family. When Rudolf was later picked up by American soldiers and accused of being a member of the Waffen SS, he was convinced that his brother had turned him in.
After increasingly different views of how to run the business, the brothers split the business in 1948. Rudolf moved to the other side of the Aurach River to start his own company. Adolf started his own company using a name he formed using his nickname—Adi—and the first three letters of his last name—Das—to establish Adidas. Rudolf created a new firm that he called “Ruda”, from “Ru” in Rudolf and “Da” in Dassler. A few months later, Rudolf’s company changed its name to PUMA Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler in 1948.
PUMA and Adidas entered a fierce and bitter rivalry after the split. The town of Herzogenaurach was divided on the issue, leading to the nickname “the town of bent necks”—people looked down to see which shoes strangers wore.
In 1948, the first football match after World War II, several members of the West German national football team wore PUMA boots, including the scorer of West Germany’s first post-war goal, Herbert Burdenski.
Rudolf developed a football boot with screw-in studs, called the “SUPER ATOM” in collaboration with people, such as West Germany’s national coach Sepp Herberger.
At the 1952 Summer Olympics, 1500 metres runner Josy Barthel of Luxembourg won PUMA’s first Olympic gold in Helsinki, Finland.
At the 1960 Summer Olympics PUMA paid German sprinter Armin Hary to wear PUMAs in the 100-metre sprint final. Hary had worn Adidas before and asked Adolf for payment, but Adidas rejected this request. The German won gold in PUMAs but then laced up Adidas for the medals ceremony, to the shock of the two Dassler brothers. Hary hoped to cash in from both, but Adi was so enraged he banned the Olympic champion.
During the 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute, Puma sponsored African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, after having won gold and bronze in the 200 meters respectively, took to the podium with their Puma Suedes in hand and bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in silent protest during the playing of the national anthem, an act meant to stand up for human rights and to stand up for black Americans.
PUMA became a public company in 1986, and thereafter was listed on the Börse München and Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It also introduced the RS Computer shoe, with “RS” standing for “running system,” an integrated device that measured runner’s speed, pace, and caloric use. It sold poorly.
In May 1989, Rudolf’s sons Armin and Gerd Dassler agreed to sell their 72 percent stake in PUMA to Swiss business Cosa Liebermann SA.
For the fiscal year 2003, the company had revenue of €1.274 billion. PUMA was the commercial sponsor for the 2002 anime series Hungry Heart: Wild Striker, with the jerseys and clothing sporting the PUMA brand. PUMA ranks as one of the top shoe brands with Adidas and Nike.
In February 2007 PUMA reported that its profits had fallen by 26% to €32.8 million ($43 million; £22 million) during the final three months of 2006. Most of the decline in profits was due to higher costs linked to its expansion; sales rose by more than a third to €480.6 million.
In early April 2007 PUMA’s shares rose €29.25 per share, or about 10.2%, to €315.24 per share.
On 10 April 2007 French retailer and owner of Gucci brand Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) announced that it had bought a 27% stake in PUMA, clearing the way for a full takeover. The deal valued PUMA at €5.3 billion. PPR said that it would launch a “friendly” takeover for PUMA, worth €330 a share, once the acquisition of the smaller stake was completed. The board of PUMA welcomed the move, saying it was fair and in the firm’s best interests.
As of July 2007, PPR owned over 60% of PUMA stock.
In July 2011 the company completed a conversion from an Aktiengesellschaft (German public limited company) to a Societas Europaea, the European Union-wide equivalent, changing its name from PUMA AG Rudolf Dassler Sport to PUMA SE. At the same time, Franz Kochreplaced the long-serving Jochen Zeitz as the firm’s CEO, with Zeitz becoming chairman.
Puma holds a 5% stake at German sports club Borussia Dortmund, whose supplier has been the company since 2012.
The company has been led by former football professional Bjørn Gulden (CEO) since 1 July 2013.
PUMA is the main producer of enthusiast driving shoes and race suits. They are the primary producer for Formula One and NASCAR clothing. They won the rights to sponsor the 2006 FIFA World Cup champions, the Italian national football team, making and sponsoring the clothing worn by the team. They entered a partnership with BMW, Ducati and Ferrari to make PUMA-Ferrari, PUMA-Ducati and PUMA-BMW shoes.
Rihanna was named Creative Director of PUMA overseeing direction of the womenswear line in December 2014.
In 2014, PUMA and Arsenal Football Club entered a 5-year merchandising partnership. The commercial partnership represents the biggest deal in PUMA and Arsenal’s history. The partnership ended in 2019.
In March 2018, Puma launched its venture with its ambassador Selena Gomez called “Phenom Lux”. In 2018, Puma re-entered the basketball sneaker market for the first time in 20 years and announced Jay-Z will be the creative director for Puma Basketball. Puma last sponsored Vince Carter in 1998. They signed young basketball players Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton, both of whom became the Top 2 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft.
In December 2018, Puma reintroduced the RS Computer, with “RS” standing for “running system.” The shoe contains technologies such as an accelerometer and Bluetooth.
In September 2020, Puma signed with Brazilian football superstar Neymar.
Labor practices and factory conditions
In 2000, PUMA began auditing all of its suppliers on a yearly basis, and makes the results available in its sustainability reports. Since 2005, it has publicly provided a list of its suppliers.
In August 2004, a joint report from the National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch stated that workers at some of Puma’s Chinese factories were enduring sweatshop conditions, working up to 16.5 hours per day for about US$0.31 an hour. Puma said they would investigate the claims.
In February 2012, a woman who worked for one of Puma’s suppliers in Cambodia was shot during a protest over factory working conditions. Puma acknowledged the poor working conditions and said they would work to improve the situation.
According to a joint report from Labour Behind the Label and Community Legal Education Centre, 30 workers fainted in November 2012 while producing clothing for Puma in China. The faintings were caused by excessive heat and alleged forced overtime. In 2014, almost 120 workers fainted in two Cambodian clothing factories where sportswear was being produced for Puma and Adidas, due to temperatures above 100 degrees. In March 2017, 150 workers assembling Puma products in Cambodia fainted due to thick smoke.
PUMA has obtained the Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation for its Australian-made products. This labour-friendly accreditation applies to only a tiny percentage of PUMA’s total production.
In May 2011, English newspaper The Guardian released an article saying that Puma was the “world’s first major company to put a value on its environmental impact”. According to the article the company “has made a commitment that within four years, half its international collections will be manufactured according to its internal sustainability standard, by using more sustainable materials such as recycled polyester, as well as ensuring its suppliers develop more sustainable materials and products.”
Puma is also known for boosting positive environmental practices in its supply chain through financial incentives. The innovative Supply Chain Finance scheme implemented links the sustainability performance of key suppliers to the costs at which they can access finance. Such scheme won the company an “Innovation Award” in Supply Chain Finance in 2016.
- 1920: Rudolf Dassler and his brother Adolf start making sports shoes.
- 1924: Foundation of Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, Herzogenaurach, Germany.
- 1930s: With the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, both Dassler brothers joined the Nazi Party, with Rudolf reputed as being the more ardent National Socialist. They produced boots for the Wehrmacht.
- 1948: The brothers split, forming PUMA (at first, Ruda) and Adidas. In the same year, PUMA’s first football boot, the “ATOM”, was launched.
- 1952: Rudolf Dassler developed the “SUPER ATOM”, a football boot with screw-in studs.
- 1953: Development of ATOM’s successor: the BRASIL.
- 1958: PUMA introduced its trademark formstrip logo.
- 1959: The company is transformed into a limited partnership named PUMA-Sportschuhfabriken Rudolf Dassler KG.
- 1960: PUMA is the first sports shoe manufacturer to use vulcanization.
- 1970: A few months prior to the 1970 FIFA World Cup, Armin Dassler (Rudolf’s son) and his cousin, Horst Dassler (Adi’s son), sealed an agreement which was dubbed “The Pelé pact”. This agreement dictated that soccer player Pelé would be out of bounds for both Adidas and PUMA. However, Pelé complied with a request by PUMA’s representative Hans Henningsen to increase the awareness and profile of PUMA after he received $120,000 to wear the Formstrips. At the opening whistle of a 1970 World Cup finals match, Pelé stopped the referee with a last-second request to tie his shoelaces before kneeling down to give millions of television viewers a close-up of his PUMA shoes. This outraged Horst and future peace agreements were called off.
- 1972: Two years later, during the 1972 Summer Olympics, PUMA provided shoes for the Ugandan 400 metres hurdles champion, John Akii-Bua. After Akii-Bua was forced out of Uganda by its military government, PUMA employed him in Germany. Eventually Akii-Bua returned to Uganda.
- 1973: Launch of the Clyde. Designed for basketball player Walt “Clyde” Frazier, this model gained wide popularity.
- 1974: Rudolf Dassler died on 27 October. Both his sons Armin and Gerd inherited the company and after a legal dispute between the two, Armin Dassler took over the company.
- 1976: Introduction of the S.P.A.-Technology.
- 1985: Boris Becker helps develop the shoe that bears his name. Martina Navratilova is under contract with PUMA from 1984 to 1987.
- 1986: Transformation into a stock corporation. The company went public as “PUMA AG” was listed on the Munich and Frankfurt stock exchanges.
- 1989: Launch of the TRINOMIC sport shoe system.
- 1989: Rudolf’s sons Armin and Gerd Dassler agreed to sell their 72 percent stake in PUMA to Swiss business Cosa Liebermann SA.
- 1990: Introduction of INSPECTOR, a growth control system for children’s shoes.
- 1991: Launch of the DISC SYSTEM sports shoe.
- 1992: Capital increase by DM 20 million, share capital reaches DM 70 million.
- 1993: Jochen Zeitz was appointed CEO.
- 1994: The first profit since the company’s IPO in 1986 is registered.
- 1996: PUMA is listed in the German M-DAX index; introduction of the CELL technology, the first foam-free midsole.
- 1997: Launch of the CELLERATOR.
- 1998: PUMA signs Serena Williams.
- 1999: PUMA becomes an official on-field supplier of the NFL, a legacy reflected in the numeral font of the Tennessee Titans jersey which still uses the original PUMA design. PUMA is the uniform manufacturer for both Super Bowl teams that year.
- 2000: Production of fireproof footwear in partnership with Porsche and Sparco.
- 2001: Acquisition of the Scandinavian Tretorn Group. The PUMA Speedcat is launched.
- 2002: PUMA ends tenure as an on-field supplier for the NFL, when Reebok is announced as the league’s sole official uniform and apparel sponsor for 10 years (2002-2011). PUMA and Serena Williams unveiled the “Serena Williams Tennis Collection”.
- 2003: Majority shareholder Monarchy/Regency sells its shareholdings to a broad base of institutional investors.
- 2004: Collaborative partnership with designer Philippe Starck.
- 2005: Mayfair Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft mbh acquires a total of 16.91% shareholding.
- 2006: The company is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index; Introduction of the S.A.F.E. concept, a specific tool developed to continuously improve social and environmental standards. Shoe collection in cooperation with Alexander McQueen.
- 2007: On 10 April, French retailer and owner of Gucci brand Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) announced that it had bought a 27% stake in PUMA, clearing the way for a full takeover. The deal valued PUMA at €5.3 billion. PPR said that it would launch a “friendly” takeover for PUMA, worth €330 a share, once the acquisition of the smaller stake was completed. The board of PUMA welcomed the move, saying it was fair and in the firm’s best interests. Prolongation of the contract with Jochen Zeitz by five years.
- 2008: Melody Harris-Jensbach is appointed Deputy CEO; Designer and artist Hussein Chalayan becomes Creative Director, PUMA also acquires a majority stake in Chalayan’s business and Hussein Chalayan.
- 2010: PUMA acquired the Cobra Golf, which was renamed as COBRA PUMA GOLF. PUMA became a carbon neutral company.
- 2011: PUMA becomes a European corporation under the name of PUMA SE. Franz Koch is named Chief Executive Officer. PUMA took over Bodywear and Socks company Dobotex. The company released the first Environmental Profit and Loss Account which valued PUMA’s environmental impact at 145 million Euros.
- 2012: Signs an eight-year deal to make kits for Borussia Dortmund, starting from the 2012–13 season.
- 2013: Bjørn Gulden is named as new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
- 2014: PUMA and Arsenal Football Club entered a long-term merchandising partnership. The commercial partnership represents the biggest deal in PUMA and Arsenal’s history.
- 2015: Rihanna became PUMA’s global ambassador for Women’s Training as well as serving as the PUMA Women’s Creative Director. As Women’s Creative Director, she also directly influences product collections, designs and customizes classic PUMA styles as well as creates new product lines.
- 2016: PUMA became the Official Licensed Partner and Official Supplier of Team and Racewear to Red Bull Racing. PUMA partnered with The Weeknd as a new Global Brand ambassador and creative collaborator.
- 2016: PUMA endorses its casual wear deal with Virat Kohli as a new Cricket Brand ambassador and creative collaborator in India of worth ₨.110 crores.
- 2017: Puma released sneakers known as “Money in the Bank”, in relation to WWE’s annual pay-per-view, of the same name.
- 2017: PUMA signs a five-year deal to make kits for Olympique de Marseille, starting from the 2018–19 season.
- 2018: Kering announces it will spin off a 70% stake in Puma to its shareholders while retaining directly 16%.
- 2018: Puma collaborates with Hello Kitty to launch the Puma X Hello Kitty For All Time collection.
- 2018: PUMA & A.C. Milan announced an official long-term partnership, effective on 1 July 2018.
- 2018: BTS became PUMA’s Global ambassadors.
- 2018: PUMA signs a three-year deal to make kits for Palmeiras, starting from the 2019 season.
- 2018: PUMA re-entry into the basketball sneaker category for the first time in 20 years and announced Jay-Z will be the creative director of Puma Basketball.
- 2019: PUMA and City Football Group signed a global long-term partnership, the deal is the largest deal both organisations have signed, the deal will see PUMA supply Manchester City F.C., Melbourne City FC, Girona FC, Club Atlético Torque, Mumbai City FC and Sichuan Jiuniu F.C.
- 2019: Puma released a line called Puma X SG in collaboration with actress and singer Selena Gomez.
- 2019: PUMA signs a three-year deal to make kits for Valencia CF, starting from the 2019–20 season.
- 2020: PUMA announced a long-term deal with Dutch football club PSV Eindhoven.
- 2020: PUMA signed a long-term deal with Brazilian football superstar Neymar.
- 2020: PUMA announced a long-term deal with Ukrainian football club FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
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