(new: statements from the press conference, share price updated)

HERZOGENAURACH (dpa-AFX) - The sporting goods manufacturer Puma wants to launch a global brand campaign for the first time in ten years in the big sports year 2024 with the Olympic Games and European Football Championships. The aim is to gain further market share - especially in the important markets of China and North America. "In 2024, we will once again prove that Puma is the challenger in the market," said CEO Arne Freundt at the annual press conference in Herzogenaurach on Tuesday. However, the "emotional bond" between consumer and brand still needs to be strengthened. However, the proportion of marketing expenditure of around ten percent of total costs is not to be increased - instead, Puma wants to concentrate more on key parts of its product range.

Freundt announced several new products, including soccer and running shoes. In the retro segment, Puma is hoping for good business with the Palermo shoe, which was relaunched a few months ago. Overall, the trend in the industry is towards so-called low-profile shoes - footwear with particularly flat soles. This could play into Puma's hands - the company celebrated great success with the Speed Cat model in the 2000s.

In the important US market, Puma products have often been sold at low prices. This segment is to be pushed back to ten to 15 percent of sales, said Freundt, without naming the current share. Overall, Puma, which works with numerous sports stars including musician Rihanna as an ambassador, wants to focus more on sport again.

In China, for example, where Puma operates more than 2000 of its own stores, the manufacturer is currently perceived too little as a sports brand and more as a lifestyle brand. Overall, Freundt is hoping for a noticeable upturn in the Chinese market after recent significant declines. RB Leipzig is the fourth Bundesliga soccer team to sign a contract in the German domestic market after Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach and 1. FC Heidenheim.

With a turnover of 8.6 billion euros last year - an increase of 6.6 percent in currency-adjusted terms compared to 2022 - Puma is number three in the industry worldwide behind US industry leader Nike and local Franconian rival Adidas. Puma currently employs around 18,600 people around the globe.

However, Freundt expects considerable headwinds to continue, especially in the first half of 2024. Currency fluctuations and the uncertain political situation in several regions have already led to a subdued consumer climate in 2023, which will continue in 2024. "The ongoing negative currency effects will continue to put pressure on profitability in the first half of the year," explained Freundt.

The operating result, which amounted to 621.6 million euros in the previous year, is expected to land in a range between 620 million and 700 million euros in 2024. At the bottom line, Puma earned 304.9 million euros last year, 13.7 million euros less than in 2022. The Management Board is proposing a stable dividend of 82 cents per share to the Annual General Meeting compared to 2022. Puma had already presented preliminary figures and the forecast at the end of January. These therefore no longer came as a surprise. The MDax-listed share gained 0.9 percent at midday./dm/DP/nas