Adidas hires CEO to turn around rival Puma

CNN business

It has been named by Adidas head Puma have banked on his ability to replicate their city rival’s comeback to replace CEO Kasper Rorsted.

Norwegian Bjørn Gulden, 57, will become CEO of Adidas ( ADDDF ) on January 1, 2023, the German sportswear brand announced on Tuesday.

The company’s shares gained about 1% in Frankfurt. The announcement was widely expected after Adidas confirmed it was in talks with Gulden on Friday, sending its shares up 20% on the news.

Guldeni, who has been Puma’s chief executive since 2013, is said to have engineered the investment in the smaller sports company, which posted its best-ever quarterly sales between July and September.

He led Adidas’ apparel and accessories business for seven years in the 1990s. A professional soccer and handball player, he was also the CEO of the Danish jewelry brand Pandora (PANDY) and is the chairman of the Salling Group, Denmark’s largest grocer.

“We are very pleased to welcome Bjørn Gulden to Adidas. [He] brings nearly 30 years of experience in the athletic products and footwear industry,” Adidas president Thomas Rabe said in a statement. “As CEO of Puma, he reinvigorated the brand and led the company to record results,” Rabe added.

Gulden takes over as the decline in Adidas’ home market of Germany deepens and inflation begins to weigh heavily on consumer spending around the world. Last month, the company lowered its financial guidance for the year, telling investors it would have to step up sales promotions because of lower store traffic in the Greater China region and a drop in demand in Western markets since early September.

It will also take 250 million euros ($247 million) in fourth-quarter sales after ending its lucrative partnership with Ye, also known as Kanye West, over the rapper’s anti-Semitic comments. Yeezy products generated nearly $2 trillion in sales for Adidas last year, 8% of the company’s revenue, according to Morgan Stanley. The line helped Adidas attract new customers and gain more shelf space in stores.

Adidas said Rorsted will leave the company at the end of this week by mutual consent. CFO Harm Ohlmeyer will lead Adidas until Gulden takes over.

Adidas and Puma are based in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, where they were founded in 1948 by feuding brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler.

-— Julia Horowitz and Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.