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Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank resigns, COO Patrik Frisk tips for top job



A new year will bring a new CEO to Under Armor.

Chief Operating Officer Patrik Frisk will replace founder Kevin Plank as CEO on January 1, 2020. Frisk will also become a member of the company's board of directors, while Plank will transition to chairman of the board and brand manager.

"Patrik is the right person to serve as Under Armour's next CEO," Plank said in the release. "As my partner during the most transformative chapter in our history, he has been exceptional in his ability to translate the brand's vision into world-class performance by focusing on our long-term strategy and redesigning our ecosystem through a strategic operational and cultural transformation." 1

9659002] Under Armor shares jumped more than 4% in trading on the premarket Tuesday after the announcement.

Frisk joined Under Armor in July 2017 from his position as CEO of Aldo Group. There, as at Under Armor, Frisk worked under his legendary founder, Aldo Bensadoun. Prior to Aldo, Frisk held various leadership positions in VF Corp.

He has been a key part of Under Armour's three-year transformation plan. In the latest earnings call, he noted "long-term achievements" the company has logged so far, including optimizing the supply chain and defining the target customer.

However, much of Frisk's focus has been on revitalizing North America for the brand, which has not yet returned to growth. North America's revenue fell 3.2% in fiscal second quarter, as reported in July. The company predicted a "slight decline" in the region's sales for 2019. Earlier, the company expected North American sales to be "relatively flat."

"The opportunity that lies ahead of us is incredible," Frisk said in the release. "As our entire global team continues to lean hard into our transformation, I am honored to lead this amazing brand towards realizing its full potential."

Frisk has often been a member of Plank for interviews since arriving under Armor. apparently, although the date of the transition has not been previously announced.

There have been a number of executive departures from Under Armor in recent years, including Kerry Chandler, human resources chief, in October 2018. Henry Merchandising chief merchandising officer and digital officer Robin Thurston resigned at the same time in 2016. [19659002] Some critics have asked for changes in management in recent years following its disappointing performance combined with unflattering news stories about the work culture. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that strip club visits were allowed as work-related expenses at Under Armor, while reports emerged citing that some female and minority employees felt surrendered to campaigns or otherwise excluded from the company's competitive culture.

The company terminated the practice of allowing staff to pay for strip club visits in early 2018, and sent a statement to the magazine in November last year saying it "can and will do better."

Plank, 47 years old, founded the company in 1996, working out of his grandmother's basement while still in college. He took it publicly in 2005 and remains an active CEO inside and outside the company's walls.

Plank is an identifiable face of the brand, and often appears at events with sponsored athletes or other renowned leaders such as Richard Branson, as part of Under Armor's partnership with Virgin Galactic for new space suits just last week.

With Plank holding the CEO and also the brand manager, he is likely to remain very involved in the company's larger direction, while leaving the daily operational details to Frisk.

Under Armour's brand has largely been associated with performance characteristics, but many consumers have purchased athletic wear to run errands around town. This shift towards fashion has helped rivals like Nike, Adidas and Lululemon.

As of Monday's close, Under Armor shares are up 14% since the start of the year. The company has a market value of $ 9.1 billion. In comparison, Lululemon shares, which have a market capitalization of $ 26.7 billion, have gained almost 69% since the year began, while Nike, valued at $ 150.2 billion, has gained almost 30% since the year began.

– CNBC's Lauren Thomas contributed to this report.


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