The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Strong de­mand for sneak­ers de­signed by singer Ri­hanna helped Puma achieve higher-than-ex­pected sales growth in the fourth quar­ter and the Ger­man sports­wear firm said on Thurs­day a busy sports cal­en­dar should help it in 2016. Puma, which fell out of favour as a fash­ion brand for women, has made tap­ping into the boom­ing fe­male sports­wear mar­ket a key part of its strat­egy for get­ting back into the race with in­dus­try lead­ers Nike and Adidas. It has ap­pointed Ri­hanna, fa­mous for hits such as Um­brella, as cre­ative di­rec­tor and the singer launched her first cloth­ing col­lec­tion for the com­pany last week in New York, a goth-in­spired range in black and white sported by mod­els wear­ing black lip­stick. "The fu­ture is fe­male ... we see more and more women across the world are do­ing sports," Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Bjorn Gulden told a news con­fer­ence. "We feel we can be the brand that owns the space be­tween the gym and the run­way." Puma also an­nounced a deal for re­al­ity tele­vi­sion celebrity Kylie Jen­ner to act as a brand am­bas­sador, de­spite brother-in-law Kanye West, who de­signs for Adidas, hav­ing pre­vi­ously said on Twit­ter she would not sign up to the ri­val brand. Puma said quar­terly sales rose a cur­rency-ad­justed 11.5% to €879 mil­lion ($979 mil­lion), beat­ing av­er­age an­a­lyst fore­casts for €839 mil­lion. Earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est and tax­a­tion (Ebit) rose 2.6% to 10.9 mil­lion, also ahead of fore­casts for 6.5 mil­lion, al­though a net loss of 4.3 mil­lion was a slight miss.

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