SBD/May 2, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Under Armour's Plank Announces New Products, Expects Continued Growth

Kevin Plank said UA's football cleats sold out in two hours after their release
Under Armour is "poised for continued growth with a soon-to-be released football cleat that's expected to drive footwear sales, as well as plans to keep expanding into international markets," according to Loraine Mirabella of the Baltimore SUN. UA Chair, President & CEO Kevin Plank yesterday at the stockholders' meeting "introduced offerings that are expected to drive sales in women's and men's apparel and footwear." Plank was "surrounded by displays" of football cleats, running shoes, pants and shirts. Plank said, "We see this as a huge opportunity for our brand." He added that he sees the new shoes "as a way to make inroads" into the $26.4B U.S. footwear market. Plank said that when the football cleat was first offered online, "it sold out in two hours, mainly to first-time Under Armour buyers in 43 states." He added that UA also is "focusing on direct-to-consumer categories ... and in international markets, with new store openings planned  this year in China." The company said last month that it "expected revenue this year" of $1.78-1.8B, a 21-22% increase over last year. Stockholders "watched videos about new products such as the company's 'coldblack' shirts, and were treated to a surprise appearance" by new Ravens RB Bernard Pierce. UA's women's apparel business, "a fast-growing category that accounts for nearly 30 percent of its clothing sales, is expected to benefit from another new product, the 'Armour Bra.'" The company said that the bra was "designed with the help of doctors and athletes" (Baltimore SUN, 5/2).

BUSINESS IS BOOMING: In Baltimore, Jack Lambert wrote UA's baseball cleats "helped drive the company's" $64M in footwear sales in Q1. Plank noted, "Cleats as a whole, between football, baseball and soccer, is a $900 million category." Plank said that the success of UA's cleats "could help its overall footwear line ... as the company is getting set to launch a new 'midsole technology' in both athletic shoes and cleats in July." Plank said that UA is "filming a new commercial for the new midsole technology this week," featuring Panthers QB Cam Newton, Patriots QB Tom Brady and UFC fighter George St. Pierre. The commercial will "run in July, when the shoes hit stores" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/1). In a Q&A with the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Lambert, Plank said of plans to compete with Nike for more of an NFL presence, "I think we're up over 100 players in the NFL wearing cleats and gloves out there." In regards to any future UA acquisitions, Plank said, "We’ll never say never on anything, but we’ve never bought a company in our company’s history. I think frankly that’s been one of the things that gets people off course a couple of times, thinking about solving for everybody else." As for whether UA would be willing to become title sponsor of the IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, Plank said, "We’ll help. We participated a year ago too, but I don’t think that is our role to take (the title sponsorship) on (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/1).
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