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Sports stars, Rihanna help Puma sprint ahead in 2016

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“Rihanna” sport shoes on display at Puma’s annual press conference on February 9, 2017 in Herzogenaurach, Germany © AFP / Christof STACHE

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany, Feb 9 – Rihanna-designed shoes and French football stars helped boost German sports brand Puma’s results in 2016, the firm said Thursday, reporting a leap in profits and offering a higher dividend.

The Bavaria-based firm increased net profits by 68 percent to 62.4 million euros ($67 million), on a seven-percent increase in revenues to 3.6 billion euros.

Underlying, or operating profit stood at 127.6 million euros, up 32.6 percent over the 2015 figure, the company said.

“The year has confirmed that our strategy has been right,” chief executive Bjorn Gulden said in a statement.

With a series of high-profile global sporting events, 2016 was a showcase for Puma’s sponsored teams and athletes.

Puma’s net profit rose 68% last year © AFP / Christof STACHE

Sprint champion Usain Bolt bore the brand’s leaping cat logo at the Summer Olympics in Rio, while the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament saw French top scorer Antoine Griezmann and teammate Olivier Giroud sport its yellow boots, among the five teams it sponsored.

Puma also enlisted model Cara Delevingne and singer The Weeknd as celebrity ambassadors, while shoes designed by R&B star Rihanna “repeatedly sold out worldwide within mere hours of hitting the stores”.

Looking to different regions, Puma boasted double-digit growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2016, adding 13 percent to sales in currency-adjusted terms to reach 1.4 billion euros.

Sprint champion Usain Bolt bore the Puma’s leaping cat logo at the Summer Olympics in Rio © Getty/AFP / Michael loccisano

Sales in the Americas and Asia grew by 8.3 percent and 8.5 percent, reaching 1.3 billion and 904 million euros respectively, with double-digit growth in China.

Shoes remain Puma’s biggest business area, with sales growing 12.6 percent to 1.6 billion euros, while textiles brought in 1.3 billion euros, up 9.6 percent, and accessories added 4.7 percent to reach 666 million euros.

Looking ahead to 2017, the firm said “the operating result will improve significantly” on the back of a “high single-digit” revenue increase.

Upcoming events like the IAAF athletics world championship in London will add to the brand’s visibility, Puma predicted.

The firm plans to offer an increased dividend of 0.75 euros per share for 2016, up from 0.25 euros the previous year.

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