Björn Gulden knows the power of the personal touch. That’s why the Puma chief executive sometimes pays a visit to his biggest customers himself, including to Intersport, the German sports retailer and biggest in Europe.
The sports dealers who market the iconic German brand say that Mr. Gulden talks candidly about his company’s problems. While they admire him for this, they are still not placing huge orders, though it is safe to say the big cat logo is back on their radar screens.
For a good year and a half now Mr. Gulden, a Norwegian, has been running Puma, Europe’s second-largest producer of athletic shoes after Adidas, its larger German competitor. The two historic rivals, both based in the same tiny Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, were born out of a split between two brothers in 1949.
Mr. Gulden has set out to take Puma back to its roots in sports. The retailer’s new collection, which to some extent bears Mr. Gulden’s imprint, will hit stores in the coming days.
But turning around an image takes time. Customers are still reaching for the competition’s shirts and shorts.