Puma CEO: We're not competing with Nike and Adidas

Puma may be smaller than other leading athletic brands, but the German company is making tremendous gains.

The company reported stellar earnings in 2018 and a sales increase of 15.7% for the second quarter of 2019.

"The brand is much smaller than the big names but definitely getting some traction," Matt Powell, a vice president and senior industry adviser at NPD Group, told Footwear News earlier in August.

Though the sportswear company is soaring, it still trails industry giants like Nike and Adidas. Puma rakes in less than its competitors annually, but executives don't seem too worried.

"I don't see my job as competing against all the brands," Puma CEO Bjorn Gulden told Business Insider at Puma's new flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan that opened on Thursday. "I see it as trying to be a good brand for the consumer."

Another executive agreed.

"We think that we play in a different lane than those brands," said Puma's North American president, Bob Philion, acknowledging that brands like Nike and Adidas are much bigger than Puma.

Puma's North American president, Bob Philion, said the new Manhattan flagship would make Puma a better company.

Puma's North American president, Bob Philion, said the new Manhattan flagship would make Puma a better company.

Philion said different elements separated Puma from competitors, such as offerings that blend sport and lifestyle apparel, two categories that are starting to grow less distinct.

"We're playing in a really good space that is growing," Philion said.

Executives also said Puma's growth comes from different places. Philion cited advancements in everything from product to marketing that had helped the brand grow.

"We're getting better at everything that we do," he said.

Puma reentered the basketball sector last year to great success and plans to continue capitalizing on that market in North America, it said.

With 18,000 square feet spanning two floors, Puma's new Manhattan flagship further represents the company's continued commitment to the North American market, executives said.

The store will also serve as a lab for testing what works and what doesn't, featuring three interactive experiences, like a simulator to test shoes on a virtual soccer pitch.

Both Gulden and Philion agreed that winning over the American market — one-third of Puma's total business — was essential for growth. The flagship is intended to help achieve that goal.

"Let's be honest," Philion said, "the size of the prize is significant here."

Credit: Shoshy Ciment