Executive Chairman quits PumaTuesday, 16 October 2012
The German newspaper Handelsblatt calls him 'Mister Puma'. Jochen Zeitz managed to turn around the fortunes of the once struggling brand - Puma trainers had been lining the shelves of supermarkets and the company had ceased to make a profit - by implementing an ambitious reorganisation plan. Seven hundred employees lost their jobs when he became the brand's CEO in 1993 at age thirty. In 1994, Puma started to turn a profit.
Last year, Zeitz resigned as CEO of Puma. Frans Koch, who had been working at Puma since 2007 and was previously responsible for the brand's global strategy, was appointed his successor. Zeitz turned to heading up the newly founded Sport- and Lifestyle division at parent company PPR. The appointments were announced in 2010, when the decision was made that Puma would form the core of PPR's new division.
Koch was burdened with Zeitz' five-year plan. The goal: to generate sales of 4 billion euros by 2015. Quite an undertaking, as the company has been suffering the effects of higher cotton prices and remunerations since 2010. Not to mention the economic crisis.
In fiscal 2010, net profits were still climbing steadily: from 79.6 million in 2009 to 202.2 million euros. Last year, Puma recorded net profits of 230.1 million euros. Halfway through the fiscal year, the sporting goods company issued a profit warning. Puma shares dipped 4.2 percent as a result. Zeitz was critical of the situation and said as much in last month's German Manager Magazin. According to the top executive, no one within the company was happy with the results and Koch needed to step up to the plate if the company was to recover.
The hunt for a successor for Zeitz' position as Executive Chairman of the Board is currently underway. PPR said in a press release that a new Executive Chairman will be appointed on 1 December. WWD has singled out Jean-François Palus, currently Group Managing Director at PPR, as a possible candidate.