Rihanna sparkles for Puma boosting footwear sales

Sales strong, profits down. That summed up Puma’s Q3 performance in a nutshell.

OK, there was bigger news to give as the Kering-owned athletic sportswear giant blandly said Friday sales had “developed as expected” in the quarter.

Footwear proved the standout performer, (up for a fifth quarter in a row) while its women’s category also impressing.

“We will put even more focus on the female consumer going forward,” it noted.

The highlight was the launch of its Puma by Rihanna ‘Creeper’ shoe, deemed “extremely successful” with most retailers having sold out within hours or days, it said.

And now for the not so good news. Q3 net earnings fell 30.9% to €20m ($22.5m).

Chief executive Bjørn Gulden noted that continued volatile currency trends in some markets and the weakness of the euro, especially towards the US dollar, “continue to put pressure on the group’s gross profit margin, operating expenses and net earnings.

“We have taken and will continue to take countermeasures but, as already indicated in the last two quarters, we cannot fully offset these negative impacts on our earnings.”

Sales in the three months ending September 30 rose 8.4% to €914.4m, in line with expectations. Sales in the Americas jumped 10.8% with the US up in the double-digits. The Asia Pacific rose 5% while EMEA slipped 3.6% against tough year-ago comparisons.

Footwear continued to grow with sales in the category up 3.5% currency neural to €408.4m, boosted by the success of its Running and Training category with the Ignite and Descendant product platforms.

Apparel sales grew 2.5% currency adjusted to €346.9m, mainly attributable to the success of the Training products.

Accessories sales rose 3.7% currency adjusted to €159m, supported by strong sales in Europe and North America.

“Good feedback from retailers, better sell-out and a solid order book validate our outlook for the fourth quarter and allow us to confirm our full-year guidance,” Gulden said.

Puma said it expects a medium single-digit increase for currency-adjusted sales in 2015.

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