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Under Armour Needs Spark from Shake-up

By BOB MCGEE– JULY 5, 2017

Patrik Frisk, a Swede and one-time “VF Corp. lifer” whose management style has been described as “straight shooter” by past associates, will become President and Chief Operating Officer at Under Armour on July 10. His appointment was part of a shake-up last week that saw the Baltimore company reduce the number of direct reports to Chairman, CEO and Founder Kevin Plank to six from 10 and the departure of two high-level product and marketing veterans, who left separately over their apparent frustrations over not being able to contribute more to the brand’s direction.

While Wall Street generally praised the management re-alignment, the moves still left many questions ahead of Under Armour’s second quarter earnings’ announcement July 24. Most notably, how long will it take the new team to improve the company’s operational efficiency, accelerate the brand’s supply chain and become more competitive with Nike and Adidas? Also, how does the brand reverse course in its home U.S. market? Its U.S. footwear sales were said to be off more than 15 percent in May and the brand’s social media buzz has suffered in recent months, according to Credit Suisse citing NetBase.

Frisk, who has nearly 30 years in the business, most recently as CEO of The ALDO Group, was embraced by the team at Timberland when VFC assigned him there to spearhead the former Swartz Family-controlled business. He was acknowledged by staffers for his efforts to understand the brand and its employees and for his directness by pointing out big changes would have to be made to keep Timberland moving forward.

The new UA president and COO will have five direct reports—Charlie Maurath, Chief Revenue Officer; Kevin Eskridge Chief Product Officer; Andy Donkin, Chief Marketing Officer; Colin Browne, Chief Supply Chain officer; and Kevin Haley, president of Strategy—and will report directly to Plank. Fritz Taylor, the former GM of Running at Mizuno who has been credited with creating UA’s Bandit running shoe during his three-year stint, and Dave Larson, the former Nike, Brooks and Reebok executive who joined in June 2016, have both departed UA.

In two separate developments, UCLA commenced its 15-year, all-school team partnership, considered the largest deal in the history of the NCAA, with Under Armour on July 1. Meanwhile, the brand sees its partnership with Premier League Soccer’s Tottenham Hotspur, which expired after five seasons, picked up by Nike.

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