Puma's German execs are happy with the company's performance in the first half of 2016, where sales rose 10 percent at constant exchange rates, though a strong U.S. dollar put a dent in gross profit margins. Net profits, however, rose by 27.6 percent to €27.4 million, about $30 million. Europe, the Middle East and Africa are still Puma's strongest combined region, where footwear, apparel and accessories all grew by double digits and sales overall increased by 14 percent.
"We continue to see better sell-out of our products in the stores, as we feel consumers are getting more interested in our brand and products again," said CEO Bjørn Gulden in a statement. The biggest growth drivers were the year's two big football tournaments, the European Championships and Copa America, and the influence of the brand's high-profile ambassadors: Rihanna and Kylie Jenner. Puma's ongoing "Future is female" business strategy to attract more women (one that involved reportedly paying Jenner a seven-figure salary) has translated into increased sales throughout 2016 so far.
"We now see that our women initiatives with products and marketing around Rihanna and Kylie Jenner are working very well," said Gulden. Rihanna's Fenty trainers and creepers sold out in days, while the fur slides sold out in minutes. Jenner's "Fierce" sneakers also sold out. Both women's lines have helped Puma strengthen relationship with retailers such as Foot Locker, which has given the German brand more floor space in its stores as a result.
Footwear is Puma's biggest business — clocking in at €752.2 million, or about $827.5 million, in the first six months of the year — but if images of Jenner in the brand's sports bras and leggings motivated you to pick up some workout gear, you're not alone. The apparel category saw a 13 percent jump in sales.
In its latest effort to court women, Puma signed a partnership in June with the New York City Ballet as the company's "official off-stage active wear partner," which will start to be visible to the public in October.