By  on March 14, 2011

Puma, Europe’s second-largest sporting goods firm after Adidas, is promoting one of its own to succeed Jochen Zeitz as its new chief executive officer.

Franz Koch, currently in charge of global strategy for Puma, will take the management helm of the activewear giant, controlled by France’s PPR, while Zeitz is to become head of PPR’s sport and lifestyle group.

Koch, 32, also joins the Puma management board as chief strategic officer.

Zeitz is to become executive chairman of a one-tier board as Puma transforms into a European corporation, subject to the approval of Puma shareholders at the firm’s annual general meeting in April. Koch’s promotion to ceo will be effective upon the green-lighting of the transformation.

Since his arrival at Puma in 2007, Koch has worked hand-in-hand with Zeitz and Puma’s board of management on the conception and execution of the company’s “Back on the Attack 2011-15” five-year strategic plan to boost sales by 2015 to 4 billion euros, or $5.56 billion at current exchange.

Prior to joining Puma, Koch worked for Oliver Wyman, an international management consultancy.

Koch also coordinated Puma’s restructuring program in 2009, geared to getting the company back on track following the financial crisis, and has been instrumental in developing the brand’s long-term sustainability program.

“Zeitz leaves behind large shoes to fill, and I am glad that I have fairly large feet,” said Koch during a telephone conference on Monday.

Koch mentioned among key challenges offering the right balance between the sports and lifestyle pillars. A keen sportsman, he listed surfing, skiing and biking among his own favorite outdoor pursuits.

François-Henri Pinault, PPR’s chairman and ceo, said that in terms of acquisitions, Puma would focus on tactical moves geared toward reinforcing existing activities, citing as an example Puma’s acquisition in 2010 of the Cobra Golf brand to strengthen the Puma Golf division.

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