Under Armour Taps a New President for Its Struggling North America Business

Under Armour Inc. has tapped a new president to helm its North America business.

Stephanie Pugliese joins the company’s leadership team starting Sept. 16, reporting directly to president and COO Patrik Frisk. She previously served as president and CEO of Duluth Trading Company.

“Our strategy in North America continues to be centered on three main elements: a focus on premium, full-price distribution to protect the Under Armour brand; deepening the connection with our consumers; and an unrelenting prioritization around operational excellence,” Frisk said in a statement. “It is leadership that ultimately brings these elements into alignment and gives us increasing confidence in our ability to build an even more powerful brand while increasing long-term, shareholder return.”

The new hire comes during a period of deceleration in the Baltimore-based sportswear firm’s home market. During the second quarter, Under Armour posted sales in the region that decreased 3% to $816 million as it struggles to keep up with competitors Nike and Adidas as well as retro labels like Champion and Fila. (Its international business, on the other hand, gained 12% to $339 million, representing 28% of the brand’s total revenue.)

The performance led the athletic label to update its outlook for the year — now predicting a slight decline, compared with the previously forecasted “relatively flat” revenues in the region.

“Our second-quarter results give us increasing conviction that our transformation continues to make solid progress across our business, unlocking efficiencies that are driving greater precision, consistency and repeatability,” CEO and chairman Kevin Plank said in July. “By staying sharply focused on our long-term strategies — driving our premium athletic brand positioning through industry-leading innovation, geographic expansion and creating deep connections with our consumers — we are on track to deliver against our expectations in 2019.”

Pugliese’s appointment also follows a number of high-profile exits at Under Armour, including former North America president Jason LaRose, who departed the company at the end of April. (He joined the brand in 2013 and was promoted to his last role in 2016.) In March, Dave Dombrow, designer behind many of the label’s hit sneaker franchises, also left the firm for a second time.

Last year marked another turbulent year for the team, with the exits of SVP of global brand management Adrienne Lofton in July and chief human resources officer Kerry Chandler in October as well as the removal of SVP of global sports marketing Ryan Kuehl and senior director of sports marketing Walker Jones in December.

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