NEW YORK — Bolstered by strong first-quarter sales, Germany’s Puma AG increased its full-year profit guidance by 30 percent, up from an initial projection in February for 10 percent growth.
The sports shoe and apparel firm said sales jumped 29.3 percent in the first quarter to $523.7 million, or 443.8 million euros, versus $405 million, or 343.2 million euros, in the year-earlier period. Earnings before interest and taxes soared 62 percent to $138.1 million, or 117 million euros. Net earnings grew 64.6 percent to $94.9 million, or 80.4 million euros. Dollar figures are at current exchange rates.
Puma said sales were strong in all geographical regions, with Europe up 22.9 percent, the Americas increasing 24.4 percent and the Far East booming 251.8 percent. Sales in the Middle East and Africa increased 49.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Puma said on Tuesday it had extended the contract of Jochen Zeitz, its chairman and chief executive officer, until 2009. In the 10 years he has been at Puma, Zeitz, 41, has rescued the brand from near-bankruptcy and repositioned it with an aggressive marketing strategy.
In a related development, Puma North America has appointed New York-based United Legwear & Bodywear as the exclusive U.S. distributor for Puma Bodywear. The bodywear, which will be designed and produced by master licensee Schiesser Lifestyle, will be launched in the U.S. this summer.
The bodywear line, which will comprise three groups for women and men, will feature active-inspired underwear items, including string bikinis, boxers and boy-cut pants, as well as bras. Special treatments on some styles will include Swarovski crystals, as well as Puma logos. Several high tech fabrics will be used that wick moisture away from the skin. There also will be pieces scented with ginseng, and specialty items, such as a sports bra with a built-in heart monitor.
Suggested retail prices for the women’s line will start at $13 for a thong or a string bikini and will go to $45 for a sports bra. Distribution will be aimed at department stores and specialty shops as well as 12 Puma stores in the U.S., said a spokeswoman for United Legwear & Bodywear.
Officials at Westford, Mass.-based Puma North America and United Legwear & Bodywear couldn’t be reached to provide sales projections, but industry sources estimate first-year wholesale volume could exceed $3 million.