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Puma to return to basketball market

German sportswear company Puma has said it plans to return to the basketball market as part of efforts to increase its presence in the US and China in competition with rivals Adidas and Nike.

Puma pulled out of basketball 17 years ago and has recently focused on its operations in football, running and motorsport, along with its thriving women’s business. The company makes the majority of its revenue in Europe, but the Reuters news agency said the strategic shift was announced today (Tuesday) at its Capital Markets Day.

Puma said it will partner with athletes and celebrities linked to basketball, noting that basketball shoes still dominate US footwear sales. Puma said it sees “substantial upside” for the brand in the US, adding that it expects Greater China, another strong basketball region, to be its top market by 2022.

Puma last month said it was positioned for strong future growth after breaking through the €4bn ($4.89bn) sales barrier for the first time amid impending restructuring at the company. Puma’s full year financial figures for 2017 detailed that all regions posted double-digit growth allowing the firm to increase its sales by 14 per cent to €4.136bn. This allowed Puma’s operating result (EBIT) to improve significantly from €128m to €245m year-on-year.

The figures came after luxury goods group Kering in January announced plans to offload Puma to the company’s shareholders. Under the plan, which is set to be put to the vote on April 26, Kering will distribute 70 per cent of Puma’s shares to its existing shareholders, leaving Artemis – the holding company controlled by Kering founder Francois Pinault – with a minority stake.

Kering acquired Puma for €5.3bn in 2007. While the sportswear company struggled for several years following the takeover as rivals Adidas and Nike surged ahead, it has since staged a recovery.