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Volume 24 No. 158
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Under Armour's Kevin Plank Talks About NBA Lockout, Nike Takeover Rumors

Under Armour Chair, President & CEO Kevin Plank participated in a Q&A with FOOTWEAR NEWS' Neil Weilheimer, who notes Plank is “as much inspirational coach and company cheerleader as CEO." He has in recent years "overhauled his footwear strategy, bringing in new leadership, improving product and letting shoes have as much marketing muscle as the star athletes.” The following is an excerpt from the Q&A with Plank.

Q: How challenging will it be to persuade retailers to take another look, to prove that Under Armour has footwear right?
Plank: The biggest knock we have is getting people over that hangover they may have felt. The good news is that when you look at this from a brand-awareness standpoint, as an apparel brand we have a 70 percent recall for the brand. From a footwear standpoint, we’ve been less than 10 percent. So it gives us an opportunity with the consumer, which is what is really important to us. A lot of them -- and this is both good and bad -- didn’t know we made shoes. Now the big emphasis is on us telling them that we make shoes.

Q: How concerned are you about the NBA lockout?
Plank: I don’t think it has any impact on us today. Of course, we’d love to see the game being played. That would be disappointing, and who knows what the repercussions for the immediate future would look like from a consumer perspective. But we are starting from a very low base, and so what we are building into is a plus-plus business.

Q: Talk of a Nike takeover had the Street buzzing a few weeks ago. Why do you think the rumors keep resurfacing?
Plank: I don’t know. There’s no truth to them. We are running and building a great business. Let me be clear: I am a fiduciary for the company first and foremost, which means that if an offer were ever presented that was in excess of where I thought we, our management, our product, our brand had the ability to go, it would be my obligation to make a decision in the best interest of the company for the shareholders. But the vision we have for this brand is probably so much bigger than anyone can get their arms around right now that it would be a hard decision to make (FOOTWEAR NEWS, 10/17 issue).