Puma hires jewellery chief to turn fortunes around

Bjorn Gulden was previously head of apparel at Adidas


Puma poached a new chief executive from Danish jeweller Pandora, hiring a man with experience on the soccer field and at long-time rival Adidas to lead a turnaround of the German sportswear company.

Bjorn Gulden has revived the fortunes of Pandora in the year he has been in charge, more than doubling the share price and pushing sales up 53 per cent.

The 47-year-old was also previously head of apparel and accessories at Adidas, experience he will need as he tries to return Puma to profit growth and build it into the global leisure brand envisaged by its French owner PPR.

PPR has been looking for a new chief for Puma since the departure of Franz Koch was announced in December, just two weeks after PPR's Jean-Francois Palus took the top spot on Puma's supervisory board. Koch stepped down at the end of March, after less than two years in the job.

Last year, Puma's net profit fell 70 per cent, forcing it to cut its dividend by three-quarters, shelve certain products and pull out of less lucrative sponsor deals like sailing and rugby.

"Gulden has successfully executed the (Pandora) board's strategy and turned the sales-out figures from negative to positive in Pandora's four biggest markets," Nykredit Markets analyst Kresten Johnsen said on Thursday, referring to what customers buy from Pandora shops.

Pandora's four biggest markets are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounts for 40 per cent of sales at Puma.

Shares in Pandora have gained nearly 140 per cent since Gulden arrived in March 2012. They fell 5 per cent on news of his departure. Puma stock was up 0.6 per cent. – (Reuters)