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Business

Puma to jumpstart sales with 2016 sports events

The German sportswear and equipment maker is counting on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the UEFA Euro soccer championships and entertainment stars such as Rihanna to boost profits this year.

A string of major sports events around the world would jumpstart Puma sales in 2016, the German manufacturer said Thursday, as it expected "high single-digit growth" for the full year.

Following dismal earnings last year with a dramatic fall in net profit by 42 percent to 37.1 million euros ($41 million), Puma is banking its 2016 fortunes on the Rio Olympics, the European soccer championships in France and the Copa America in the United States.

In addition, sales were expected to be supported further by US pop star Rihanna, Puma said in a statement, who designed a new product range tailored especially for the needs of women. Rihanna's collection already helped shore up Puma at the end of last year.

"The year ended with a strong fourth quarter showing double-digit reported growth across all regions and all product categories," said Puma Chief Executive Björn Gulden. "I am especially proud to see our positive development in the women's business where our co-operation with Rihanna and a strong product offering have increased the interest from both retailers and consumers," he added.

Stars lift sales, but dollar weighs

Puma's eternal rivals US sportswear giant Nike and Germany's Adidas, however, are also looking to cash in on the boom in women's fitness, especially in China and India, as well as the "athleisure" trend where sportswear is influencing what people wear at work.

Therefore, Puma's recent offensive included a contract with Kylie Jenner, a member of reality TV Kardashian family, in a bid to woo young people on social media. Moreover, the company is sponsoring five teams in the UEFA soccer championships in France, as well as star athlete Usain Bolt who is taking part in the Olympics in Rio.

CEO Gulden announced that Puma was considering boosting its presence in the US in the next three to five years. In the fiercely contested market, upstart Under Armour recently overtook Adidas as the sector's number two behind Nike, pushing Puma in fourth place in the ranking of the world's main sportswear manufacturers.

Puma attributed its downturn last year to a stronger US dollar which had "a significant impact" on both gross profit margin and operating expenses. In 2016, the company aims to boost profitability under efforts to increase net profit "in a range of 115-125 million euros."

uhe/hg (AFP, dpa)

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