Puma has a new stateside sales chief. The Westford, Mass.-based brand has appointed industry vet Curtis Charles to the position of SVP of North American sales, it announced exclusively to Footwear News today.
Charles, who was most recently CEO and CMO of Kemistre 8, overseeing the apparel business of the PRPS and Akademiks brands, told FN that concentrating on successful businesses and working closer with key retail partners will be the strategy for growing the Puma and Tretorn footwear, apparel and accessories businesses in the U.S. and Canada.
Charles replaces Tom Morgan, former SVP of sales and merchandising, who is now at ProKeds.
“It’s a great time to be at Puma,” Charles said. “In a very tough U.S. economy, we’re one of the few brands that are doing very well in the marketplace, which gives us a great opportunity to drive momentum here and globally.”
Charles added that for Puma to continue to succeed at retail, the key will be to create differentiated product and create a “clearer brand message and product assortment.” He also said the brand would be working with retailers across all its channels to create in-store experiences.
Echoing statements made by North American brand president Jay Piccola in previous interviews, Charles said he would focus on top-performing categories — including running, archive product and, for spring ’10, a relaunch in motorsports — and work to broaden the company’s share in key accounts.
“[It’s about] picking the right partners and driving those strategic partnerships, and better utilizing all our tools as a brand to get our messages through,” Charles said. “Our point of view has to come through with each partner.”
Some of that attention may come in an expanded program of shop-in-shops. On April 16, for instance, Puma debuted a shop-in-shop devoted to the Puma Archive collection at New York retailer Michael K. Charles said the concept had potential for a nationwide rollout in select independent doors.
Sticking with what works, he explained, is what will help the brand and its retailers thrive in a tough economy. “The biggest challenge is unfortunately an industry challenge: the shrinking of the independent channel in footwear and the challenges that the key retailers are having,” he said. “We’re going to carry [forward] the great trends we’re having at retail and fill out the categories we’re doing well in.”
Curtis also said that wider distribution with lifestyle accounts for the Tretorn brand would be a priority.