Puma SE, branded as Puma, is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures athletic and casual footwear, apparel and accessories, which is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. Puma is the third largest sportswear manufacturer in the world. The company was founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler. In 1924, Rudolf and his brother Adolf "Adi" Dassler had jointly formed the company Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). The relationship between the two brothers deteriorated until the two agreed to split in 1948, forming two separate entities, Adidas and Puma. Both companies are currently based in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Puma has been a public company since 1986, listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. French luxury group Kering (formerly known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute or PPR) holds 16%, Kering's largest shareholder Artemis SA owns 29% of the share capital. Since 1 July 2013, the company has been led by former football professional Bjørn Gulden (chief executive officer).
As of 2017, Puma SE employs more than 13,000 people worldwide and distributes its products in more than 120 countries.
Following the split from his brother, Rudolf originally registered the newly established company as Ruda (derived from Rudolf Dassler, as Adidas was based on Adi Dassler), but later changed the name to Puma. Puma's earliest logo consisted of a square and beast jumping through a D, which was registered, along with the company's name, in 1948. Puma's shoe and clothing designs feature the Puma logo and the distinctive "Formstrip" which was introduced in 1958.
In athletics (track and field), Puma sponsors several athletic associations such as the Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominican, Barbados, Portugal, Switzerland and Norway. It also has the world's fastest man and Jamaican track athlete Usain Bolt under contract along with other track and field athletes like Andre Degrasse, Karsten Warholm and Gianmarco Tamberi. Over the past decades, several world records were achieved by athletes wearing Puma shoes, such as Heinz Futterer (1954), Armin Hary (1960), Jim Hines (1976), Tommie Smith (1968), Asafa Powell (2005), and Usain Bolt (2009).
In 1924, Rudolf and his younger brother, Adolf, nicknamed "Adi", founded a shoe factory. They named the new business "Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik" (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) which was the only business at the time that manufactured sports shoes. The pair started their venture in their mother's laundry. At the time, electricity supplies in the town were unreliable, and the brothers sometimes had to use pedal power from a stationary bicycle to run their equipment. In 1927, they moved into a separate building.
The brothers drove from Bavaria to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin with a suitcase full of spikes and persuaded United States sprinter Jesse Owens to use them, the first sponsorship for an African American. Owens won four gold medals. Business boomed; the Dasslers were selling 200,000 pairs of shoes annually before World War II.
Both brothers joined the Nazi Party, but Rudolf was slightly closer to the party. A growing rift between the brothers reached a breaking point during a 1943 Allied bomb attack. Adi and his wife climbed into a bomb shelter that Rudolf and his family were already in. "Here are the bloody bastards again," Adi remarked, apparently referring to the Allied war planes, but Rudolf, due to his apparent insecurity, was convinced his brother meant him and his family. When Rudolf was later picked up by American soldiers and accused of being a member of the Waffen SS, he was convinced that his brother had turned him in.
After increasingly different views of how to run the business, the brothers split the business in 1948. Rudolf moved to the other side of the Aurach River to start his own company. Adolf started his own company using a name he formed using his nickname--Adi--and the first three letters of his last name--Das--to establish Adidas. Rudolf created a new firm that he called "Ruda", from "Ru" in Rudolf and "Da" in Dassler. A few months later, Rudolf's company changed its name to Puma Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler in 1948.
A pair of Puma sport-lifestyle shoes with the company's distinctive "Formstrip" design
Puma and Adidas entered a fierce and bitter rivalry after the split. The town of Herzogenaurach was divided on the issue, leading to the nickname "the town of bent necks"--people looked down to see which shoes strangers wore.
At the 1960 Summer Olympics Puma paid German sprinter Armin Hary to wear Pumas in the 100-metre sprint final. Hary had worn Adidas before and asked Adolf for payment, but Adidas rejected this request. The German won gold in Pumas but then laced up Adidas for the medals ceremony, to the shock of the two Dassler brothers. Hary hoped to cash in from both, but Adi was so enraged he banned the Olympic champion.
During the 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute, Puma sponsored African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, after having won gold and bronze in the 200 meters respectively, took to the podium with their Puma Suedes in hand and bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in silent protest during the playing of the national anthem, an act meant to stand up for human rights and to stand up for black Americans.
Puma became a public company in 1986, and thereafter was listed on the Börse München and Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It also introduced the RS Computer shoe, with "RS" standing for "running system," an integrated device that measured runner's speed, pace, and caloric use. It sold poorly.
In May 1989, Rudolf's sons Armin and Gerd Dassler agreed to sell their 72 percent stake in Puma to Swiss business Cosa Liebermann SA.
For the fiscal year 2003, the company had revenue of EUR1.274 billion. Puma was the commercial sponsor for the 2002 anime series Hungry Heart: Wild Striker, with the jerseys and clothing sporting the Puma brand. Puma ranks as one of the top shoe brands with Adidas and Nike.
In February 2007 Puma reported that its profits had fallen by 26% to EUR32.8 million ($43 million; £22 million) during the final three months of 2006. Most of the decline in profits was due to higher costs linked to its expansion; sales rose by more than a third to EUR480.6 million.
In early April 2007 Puma's shares rose EUR29.25 per share, or about 10.2%, to EUR315.24 per share.
On 10 April 2007 French retailer and owner of Gucci brand Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) announced that it had bought a 27% stake in Puma, clearing the way for a full takeover. The deal valued Puma at EUR5.3 billion. PPR said that it would launch a "friendly" takeover for Puma, worth EUR330 a share, once the acquisition of the smaller stake was completed. The board of Puma welcomed the move, saying it was fair and in the firm's best interests.
As of July 2007, PPR owned over 60% of Puma stock.
Rihanna was named creative director of Puma overseeing direction of the womenswear line in December 2014.
In 2014, Puma and Arsenal Football Club entered a 5-year merchandising partnership. The commercial partnership represents the biggest deal in Puma and Arsenal's history. The partnership ended in 2019.
In March 2018, Puma launched its venture with its ambassador Selena Gomez called "Phenom Lux''. In 2018, Puma re-entered the basketball sneaker market for the first time in 20 years and announced Jay-Z will be the creative director for Puma Basketball. Puma last sponsored Vince Carter in 1998. They signed young basketball players Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton, both of whom became the Top 2 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft.
In December 2018, Puma reintroduced the RS Computer, with "RS" standing for "running system." The shoe contains technologies such as an accelerometer and Bluetooth.
In September 2020, Puma signed with Brazilian football superstar Neymar.
Labor practices and factory conditions
In 2000, Puma began auditing all of its suppliers on a yearly basis, and makes the results available in its sustainability reports. Since 2005, it has publicly provided a list of its suppliers.
In August 2004, a joint report from the National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch stated that workers at some of Puma's Chinese factories were enduring sweatshop conditions, working up to 16.5 hours per day for about US$0.31 an hour. Puma said they would investigate the claims.
In February 2012, a woman who worked for one of Puma's suppliers in Cambodia was shot during a protest over factory working conditions. Puma acknowledged the poor working conditions and said they would work to improve the situation.
According to a joint report from Labour Behind the Label and Community Legal Education Centre, 30 workers fainted in November 2012 while producing clothing for Puma in China. The faintings were caused by excessive heat and alleged forced overtime. In 2014, almost 120 workers fainted in two Cambodian clothing factories where sportswear was being produced for Puma and Adidas, due to temperatures above 100 degrees. In March 2017, 150 workers assembling Puma products in Cambodia fainted due to thick smoke.
Puma has obtained the Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation for its Australian-made products. This labour-friendly accreditation applies to only a tiny percentage of Puma s total production.
In May 2011, English newspaper The Guardian released an article saying that Puma was the "world's first major company to put a value on its environmental impact". According to the article the company "has made a commitment that within four years, half its international collections will be manufactured according to its internal sustainability standard, by using more sustainable materials such as recycled polyester, as well as ensuring its suppliers develop more sustainable materials and products."
Puma is also known for boosting positive environmental practices in its supply chain through financial incentives. The innovative Supply Chain Finance scheme implemented links the sustainability performance of key suppliers to the costs at which they can access finance. Such scheme won the company an "Innovation Award" in Supply Chain Finance in 2016.
Puma goalkeeper gloves and Puma motorsport gloves.
A pair of Puma suede shoes, a style introduced in 1968.
1924: Foundation of Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, Herzogenaurach, Germany.
1930s: With the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, both Dassler brothers joined the Nazi Party, with Rudolf reputed as being the more ardent National Socialist. They produced boots for the Wehrmacht.
1948: The brothers split, forming Puma (at first, Ruda) and Adidas. In the same year, Puma's first football boot, the "Atom", was launched.
1952: Rudolf Dassler developed the "Super Atom", a football boot with screw-in studs.
1953: Development of Atom's successor: the Brasil.
1958: Puma introduced its trademark formstrip logo.
1970: A few months prior to the 1970 FIFA World Cup, Armin Dassler (Rudolf's son) and his cousin, Horst Dassler (Adi's son), sealed an agreement which was dubbed "The Pelé pact". This agreement dictated that soccer player Pelé would be out of bounds for both Adidas and Puma. However, Pelé complied with a request by Puma's representative Hans Henningsen to increase the awareness and profile of Puma after he received $120,000 to wear the Formstrips. At the opening whistle of a 1970 World Cup finals match, Pelé stopped the referee with a last-second request to tie his shoelaces before kneeling down to give millions of television viewers a close-up of his Puma shoes. This outraged Horst and future peace agreements were called off.
1999: Puma becomes an official on-field supplier of the NFL, a legacy reflected in the numeral font of the Tennessee Titans jersey which still uses the original Puma design. Puma is the uniform manufacturer for both Super Bowl teams that year.
2000: Production of fireproof footwear in partnership with Porsche and Sparco.
2001: Acquisition of the Scandinavian Tretorn Group. The Puma Speedcat is launched.
2002: Puma ends tenure as an on-field supplier for the NFL, when Reebok is announced as the league's sole official uniform and apparel sponsor for 10 years (2002-2011). Puma and Serena Williams unveiled the "Serena Williams Tennis Collection".
2003: Majority shareholder Monarchy/Regency sells its shareholdings to a broad base of institutional investors.
2005: Mayfair Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft mbh acquires a total of 16.91% shareholding.
2006: The company is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index; Introduction of the S.A.F.E. concept, a specific tool developed to continuously improve social and environmental standards. Shoe collection in cooperation with Alexander McQueen.
2007: On 10 April, French retailer and owner of Gucci brand Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) announced that it had bought a 27% stake in Puma clearing the way for a full takeover. The deal valued Puma at EUR5.3 billion. PPR said that it would launch a "friendly" takeover for Puma, worth EUR330 a share, once the acquisition of the smaller stake was completed. The board of Puma welcomed the move, saying it was fair and in the firm's best interests. Prolongation of the contract with Jochen Zeitz by five years.
2010: Puma acquired Cobra Golf, which was renamed Cobra Puma Golf. Puma became a carbon neutral company.
2011: Puma becomes a European corporation under the name of Puma SE. Franz Koch is named chief executive officer. Puma took over Bodywear and Socks company Dobotex. The company released the first Environmental Profit and Loss Account which valued Puma's environmental impact at 145 million euros.
2013: Bjørn Gulden is named chief executive officer.
2014: Puma and Arsenal Football Club entered a long-term merchandising partnership. The commercial partnership represents the biggest deal in Puma and Arsenal's history.
2015: Rihanna became Puma's global ambassador for women's training as well as Puma Women's creative director. She directly influences product collections, designs and customizes classic Puma styles as well as creates new product lines.
2016: Puma became the official licensed partner and official supplier of team and racewear to Red Bull Racing. Puma partnered with The Weeknd as a new Global Brand ambassador and creative collaborator.
2016: Puma endorses its casual wear deal with Virat Kohli as a new Cricket Brand ambassador and creative collaborator in India of worth Rs.110 crores.
2017: Puma released sneakers known as "Money in the Bank", in relation to WWE's annual pay-per-view, of the same name.