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Jamaica produces record profit for Puma

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt kissing his shoe after winning 100m gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. - file

Steven Jackson, Business Reporter

Global athletics brand Puma credited its €37.6 million (J$4.57 billion) record second-quarter 2011 profit performance in part to strong sales of its Jamaica inspired 'Faas' sneakers endorsed by sprinter Usain Bolt and dub-poet group No Maddz.

"In particular, Puma's Running category grew significantly, boosted by the ongoing top seller Puma Faas, a lightweight neutral racer for tempo runs and racing. The shoe is constructed with BioRide Technology, an integrated system that provides more natural running rhythm and enhanced speed," said the German brand in its financial report released last week.

Footwear accounts for half of Puma's €1.4 billion in total external sales, apparel at 32 per cent and accessories at 14.5 per cent.

The Faas sneaker recently launched a new international ad campaign in which Bolt and No Maddz jog along the Palisadoes road in Kingston. Both personalities are also showcased heavily on the Puma Faas site.

Bolt, the world 100- and 200-metre record holder, last year signed a four-year deal with Puma for an undisclosed sum. Puma stressed that it was by far the largest ever given to a track-and-field athlete. Unconfirmed estimates value the deal close to US$10 million (J$860 million) per year.

No Maddz four poets/actors - who also starred in the 2010 film Better Mus' Come - are Sheldon Shepherd, Everaldo Creary, Christopher Gordon and O'Neil Peart. All members were recipients of the prestigious Jamaican Prime Minster Youth Award for excellence in the field of Arts and Culture - Creary in 2005, Sheldon in 2006, Peart in 2007, and Gordon in 2009.

Puma's second-quarter earnings at nearly €40 million was 10 per cent above year earlier levels, a new record for the company.

"I could not have asked for a better start to my new position as Puma's CEO than to announce the best second quarter in Puma's history in terms of sales, a performance that underlines our ambition to achieve our sales target of €3 billion for this year," said Franz Koch, CEO of Puma.

"Investments into our core markets, in line with our Back on the Attack company growth strategy, have started to pay off and we will continue to strengthen our brand and product in order to become the most desirable and sustainable sport lifestyle company in the world."

Worldwide Puma brand sales rose by 9.9 per cent to €09 million in the second quarter from €645 million last year.

On a half-year basis, brand sales rose 11.3 per cent to more than €1.5 billion compared to the first half of 2010, the company said.

Puma said it spent the last decade studying what makes Jamaicans fast runners.

"Is it their well-rounded diet of Trelawny yams? Is it because they balance their daily training with victory dance practice?" it asks on the Faas home page.

Simple approach

"After much time spent with our Jamaican athletes, we found the answer was rather simple. Jamaicans take a simple approach to running. Their routine includes grass tracks and uphill sprints rather than Alter-G treadmills and speed parachutes. They thrive in natural environments and remind the world that running is nothing more than a desire to be faster and to enjoy the freedom of finding one's natural rhythm."

Puma said those concepts went into the design of the Faas shoes.

"We used a 'less is more' approach by removing the bells, whistles, and traditional running shoe reinforcements and replacing them with a new lightweight system called BioRide."