LONDON — Puma SE is racing ahead in art and in life: The German brand owned by PPR has just unveiled a collaboration with a string of African artists, while new chief executive officer Franz Koch said business remains robust.
“Clearly, growth has slowed in the mature markets, but in the emerging economies we haven’t seen any slowdown. Overall, we have not seen anything that points to a significant slowdown in sales at Puma,” said Koch. “Going forward, we have to be cautious, conservative and prepared.”
On Monday, the Puma team swept into London’s Design Museum to unveil 10 new football (soccer) uniforms for the national teams it sponsors in Africa. Puma asked one African artist to create an image for each team’s uniform, and the designs range from baobab trees to lion heads to stars and panthers.
The artsy uniforms will also be the subject of a month-long show, “Interpretations of Africa: Football, Art and Design,” at the Design Museum. Earlier this year, Puma scoured the African continent to find the appropriate artists, who include Zineb Zedira of Algeria; Godfried Donker of Ghana, and Ernest Duku of Ivory Coast.
The show includes the artists’ sketches, inspirations and the final products for the teams, which include Ghana, Senegal, Togo, South Africa, Namibia and Algeria. Puma will sell replica uniforms for fans as well as accessories, all of which will boast the artists’ designs.
Puma has been working with Africa’s national soccer teams since 1996, when it began sponsoring Cameroon. It has a long history of youth and charity work in Africa as well as a number of sustainable initiatives on the continent set in motion by former ceo Jochen Zeitz, who now oversees PPR’s sports and lifestyle division.
While Koch said the company does not break out sales by region, he said that Africa, overall, is an opportunity: “Further down the road, it is a growth opportunity.”