COMMENT: New Puma boss faces hurdles
Jochen Zeitz will lead the new PPR sport and lifestyle division
Puma is on the lookout for a new chief executive after news that Jochen Zeitz will move upstairs to look after a new sport and lifestyle division being set up by parent PPR Group.
Potential candidates will be excited at the prospect of leading a company currently placed in bronze medal position in the sporting goods industry.
And while eclipsing either Nike or Adidas - Puma's neighbour across the road in Herzogenaurach - is unlikely, the new boss will work with Zeitz to thrash out a five-year growth strategy.
Beyond these fairly regular challenges for a top executive, a spate of new challenges since Zeitz announced the vacancy last week means his replacement will have nowhere to hide.
For instance, Puma has discovered what it describes as irregularities at its Greek joint venture company, which could result in a maximum extraordinary write-off effect of up to EUR115m (US$160.2m).
Subsequent restructuring in Greece is likely to cost around EUR15m, meaning that prospective CEOs will face some tricky sums. That said, Puma still managed to report a 14.2% in profits for the third quarter, meaning that although the Greek situation had "cast a shadow" over the results, the company remains in a very strong financial position.
The company has also announced this week that it will acquire 100% of its long-term Chinese joint venture Liberty China Holding as of January 2011.
Through the full take over, from a 51% holding now, Puma wants to strengthen its position in China directly, tapping into the market's enormous potential.
Therefore, while fluent German, Greek and Mandarin isn't a prerequisite of the role, Puma's new CEO will face a whole world of new challenges.
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