Puma delivered an earnings beat for the 2019 fiscal year, with sales increasing by 18.4% to top 5.5 billion euros ($5.93 billion).
The Germany-based sportswear giant even surpassed its full-year guidance, which had been raised twice during the year, with annual net earnings rising 40% year over year to 262 million euros ($282 million). Earnings per share were 1.76 euros ($1.90) on an annual basis, up from 1.25 euros ($1.35) a year earlier.
Across all categories and regions, Puma reported double-digit gains for 2019. The firm recorded 16.8% growth in the footwear category, with sales rising to 2.55 billion euros ($2.75 billion); in the apparel division, Puma reported a 22.6% sales increase to 2.06 billion euros ($2.22 billion).
“[The year] 2019 [was] the best year in Puma’s history,” said CEO Bjorn Gulden in a statement. “I am very proud of what the team has achieved and think this performance shows the global potential of the Puma brand.”
Going forward, Puma is prioritizing the basketball category, which it reentered in 2018 in hopes of building more sports performance credibility in the U.S. market. The firm hired Jay-Z as president of basketball operations and has beefed up its roster of NBA stars, adding Miami Heat athletes Kendrick Nunn and Derrick Jones Jr. to its lineup just this week. Women’s is another major focus. The brand is betting on its ambassadors to help drive growth in the category. In 2019, it launched its second collection with Selena Gomez and debuted a range in conjunction with Cara Delevingne and Balmain.
As Puma seeks to further expand in 2020, it joins hundreds of brands that are now shouldering the threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has sparked international fears. More than 2,000 people are confirmed dead from the illness, and there are over 74,000 confirmed cases.
Firms across the fashion and footwear industries have warned of negative business impacts due to the virus, and Gulden shared a similar sentiment, noting that business has taken a hit not only in China but in other markets, particularly in Asia. Prior to the outbreak, there had been blockbuster growth for Puma in Asia: Across all categories and regions in 2019, the brand reported the biggest gains in the Asia-Pacific region, with sales growing by 26%, driven primarily by China and India.
“After a good start into 2020, February has, of course, been negatively affected by the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Gulden. “Given the current uncertainty around the virus it is, of course, impossible to forecast its impact on the business. We will do everything we can in the short term to minimize the damage and remain very positive in the long term, both for our industry and for Puma.”
Puma was also named FN’s 2019 Brand of the Year at its annual achievement awards in New York.