The History of Puma Sportswear

Founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler, Puma has been a public company since 1986 and the current CEO is former professional footballer Bjørn Gulden. Sold in over 120 countries, Puma employs more than 13,000 people worldwide. Here is the history of Puma.

The Origins of Puma

In 1924 Rudolf Dassler and his younger brother, Adolf, founded a shoe factory and named it the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik or Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. Started in their mother’s laundry, the Dassler brothers moved to new premises in 1927 and in 1936 travelled to Summer Olympics in Berlin and convinced American Sprinter Jesse Owens to wear their spiked shoes.

Puma and Adidas

The brothers Dassler did not always agree on how to run their business and in 1948 the pair split the business owing to irreconcilable differences. Rudolf created a new company called ‘Ruda’ which was renamed to PUMA Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler a few months later, while Adolf created Adidas using his nickname ‘Adi’ and the first 3 letters of his last name ‘Das’.

The 1960s Summer Olympics

During the 1960 Summer Olympics, Puma paid German sprinter Armin Hary to wear their shoes in the 100 metre final sprint and he won Gold. Hary had previously won Adidas and requested payment from Adidas as well, but this was rejected by Adolf. While Hary won Gold wearing Puma shoes, he put on Adidas ahead of the medal ceremony in an attempt to cash in on both deals – much like how some players occupy multiple seats when playing online blackjack  in order to increase their chances of winning. This enraged Adolf to such an extent that he banned Hary from wearing Adidas again.

Puma Goes Public

Two major developments in Puma’s history took place in 1986. After going public, Puma was listed on the Börse München and Frankfurt Stock Exchange and they also introduced the RS Computer Shoe, with the “RS” standing for “running system”. While the running system was innovative in that the shoe held an integrated device which measured the runner’s speed, pace, and calories burned, the shoe sold poorly.

Puma Majority Shares Are Sold

Rudolf’s sons, Armin and Gerd, sold their 72% stake in Puma to Swiss Business Cosa Liebermann SA in May 1989, and by the year 2003 Puma had become one of the world’s top shoe brands alongside Adidas and Nike.

Gucci Purchases Remaining Shares

Gucci brand Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) announced on 10th April 2007 that they had purchased the remaining 27% stake in Puma which cleared the way for a full takeover of the company by PPR. The company bought out smaller stake holders and by 2007, PPR owned 60% of Puma’s shares.

Recent Developments

In recent years Puma has become the primary producer for Formula One and NASCAR clothing and are well-known as the main producers of enthusiast driving shoes and race suits. In 2013, it was announced that former football professional Bjørn Gulden had been appointed as Puma’s CEO and Rihanna was named the Creative Director of Puma in December 2014 in order to oversee the direction of the womenswear line.