It is a spectacular transfer of personnel in the German sporting goods industry: the previous Puma boss Björn Gulden takes over from the competitor Adidas. Gulden worked for the three-strip company back in the 90s. Now he should lead it into an "era of strength".
Former Puma CEO Björn Gulden will become the new CEO at competitor Adidas. Adidas announced in Herzogenaurach that the change would take place on January 1st next year. Puma announced the Norwegian's departure last Friday after nine successful years and Adidas confirmed talks with Gulden on the same day.
Kasper Rorsted, once celebrated for economic success but recently hapless at Adidas, will leave the company at the end of this week on November 11th, it said. Until the takeover by Gulden, CFO Harm Ohlmeyer will take over the helm at the three-stripe mark for the rest of the year. Rorsted's departure had been public knowledge since August, but had actually been announced for the course of 2023.
However, the move to Adidas comes as a surprise. Puma and Adidas have been rivals for decades. The founder brothers Adolf (Adidas) and Rudolf (Puma) Dassler were considered deeply at odds. However, the two Scandinavians Gulden and Rorsted were said to have a good personal relationship. Adidas is the second largest sporting goods manufacturer in the world behind the US industry leader Nike. Puma follows in third place with a clear gap.
Adidas wants to announce its business figures for the third quarter on Wednesday. After taking over the helm of Adidas from current Bayern Munich President Herbert Hainer in 2016, Rorsted managed to significantly improve Adidas' profitability - also by stepping on the brakes on costs. Most recently, major shareholders have accused him of making mistakes in the important China business. His management style is also said to have met with criticism in Herzogenaurach.
Recently, there was also a dispute with US rapper Kanye West. Adidas ended the collaboration after the musician's anti-Semitic remarks, which the company said should weigh on earnings in the last quarter by 250 million euros. Adidas Supervisory Board Chairman Thomas Rabe (Bertelsmann) thanked Rorsted for his great service to the company. In the six years of his tenure, he strategically realigned the company. He praised Gulden as a manager with 30 years of experience and excellent connections in the sports and shoe industry. He will lead Adidas "into a new era of strength," said Rabe.