In a copyrighted story from REUTERS, https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/pumas-gulden-serve-adidas-ceo-jan-1-2022-11-08/, it was announced, to the surprise of many key observers, that Bjorn Gulden, who, until Monday night, November 7, was CEO of PUMA AG, is now moving across the town of Herzogenaurach, Germany to become CEO of the rival brand, adidas.
adidas and PUMA were developed from the same birthplace, by Adi and Rudolf Dassler, brothers who founded the Brothers Dassler Shoe Factory in 1924, and, after a breakup that could be described by many as acrimonious, went on to found adidas and PUMA. Both companies have their headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
Both PUMA and adidas had built strong portfolios, with adidas being the second largest sports footwear and apparel brand in the world, next to NIKE. PUMA has been on a resurgence under Bjorn Gulden.
This writer spoke with Bjorn Gulden during an interview with PUMA’s new wunderkind, Abby Steiner, this past July 2022 at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where PUMA’s new start took golds in the 4x400m and 4x100m while placing fifth in the individual 200 meters. Gulden obviously enjoyed his job at PUMA and used a small group of athlete ambassadors than rival adidas (Gianmarco Tambieri, Abby Steiner, Renaud Lavillenie, Mondo Duplantis, Karston Warlholm, Andre DeGrasse, and Molly Seidel.
Kaspar Rorsted, CEO of adidas, is expected to leave his position earlier than expected, as the economic clouds at adidas have darkening, with economic woes in China (doesn’t everyone have trouble in China right now?) and the Kanye West’s cancelation. adidas has been under some major pressure, and the adidas Board obviously is impressed with Gulden’s nine years at PUMA.
In the REUTERS feature noted above, Thomas Rabe, the supervisory board chairman at adidas, said of Bjorn Gulden: “During his time as CEO of Puma, he revitalized the brand and led the company to record results,”. In adidas speak, that means the adidas Board thinks that Bjorn Gulden is their man of the hour and that Kaspar Rorsted will be retiring a bit earlier than expected.
CEOs going from one company to another, even in the same industry, is old hat. But in the footwear business, where non-competes are notorious, and this writer knows of several designers and marketing professionals who spent six months to 18 months waiting to go to new companies, a CEO without a tight non-compete is rather unusual. This writer would love to sit down with Mr. Gulden over a good adult beverage and find out the behind-the-scenes story. REUTERS hypothesized that Mr. Gulden’s contract had expired with PUMA, and so had his non-compete. Nonetheless, on a just the U.S election day, this writer found this to be a fascinating story (special thanks to alert senior writer Jeff Benjamin, who found the story).
At PUMA, Arne Freudnt was announced, as the new CEO with Immediate effect, on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.
A great follow-up piece is from Salonfilaha.com: https://www.salonfilaha.com/monde/transfert-royal-de-puma-a-adidas-voici-bjorn-gulden-le-successeur-de-kasper-rorsted/7511/