Puma pushes through challenges for record-breaking 2021

Sustained brand momentum, product launches help fuel a positive tone for company's Q4 report

King Putters

Despite another year wrought with challenges, Puma SE (PUM.DE) managed to exceed 6.8 billion euros (the U.S. equivalent being $7.6 billion) in sales at the end of 2021, a record-breaking touchstone for the company, which released its Q4 report on Wednesday. Comparatively, Puma's previous best sales year was 2019 ($6.2 billion).

The company credits its success to sustained brand momentum, product launches and operations flexibility, although it seems that the overall brand growth may have been the main driver.

“Our strategy of working closely together with our suppliers and retail partners to maneuver through all the short-term issues and obstacles without hindering our mid-term momentum paid off," said Bjorn Gulden, CEO of Puma SE.  

Puma reported an increase in the number of employees by 12.2% from last year. Eighty-seven people in 2021 alone were employed with the research and development teams. The brand has committed to social and sustainable initiatives and kept up with its product release schedules, introducing its first generation of Cobra putters, which includes the King Vintage Series and the King 3D Printed Series. Puma also welcomed six new athletes across three sports — soccer, ice hockey and basketball — to an arsenal of influencers. Puma touted success with its Tokyo Olympics-sponsored athletes as well as Bryson DeChambeau’s win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2021.

While golf was not the highlight of the 2021 financial report, Puma attributed its accessories growth to higher sales of socks, bodywear and Cobra Golf clubs. With 2020 reporting 892.7 million euros in sales and 2021 reporting 1.13 billion euros, Puma recorded a 26% growth in accessories sales. Puma continued to boast high performance from the golf brand category, noting that collaborations with Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew created brand heat.

Puma’s focus is on its performance categories, predominantly running and training, team sports, and basketball. For golf, it doesn’t appear any incremental investments are being made with reported development costs in connection with Cobra brand golf clubs. In fact, 2021 reported the lowest research and development investments yet at 1.7 million euros, down slightly from the prior five-year average. It appears Puma is riding the wave of the golf boom without shifting any deeper investments into the club business.

"We will have to continue our hard work in this difficult environment, but I remain very optimistic for the future of both our sector in general and Puma in particular," Gulden said.