Under Armour Founder Kevin Plank to Step Down as CEO

Athletics wear company Under Armour is shaking things up at the top of its leadership, hopefully shaking up competition with rivals in the process.  This week, CEO Kevin Plank announced his resignation as well as his pending replacement by current Chief Operating Officer Patrik Frisk.  The change will be official the first of next year. 

Plank has served as CEO of Under Armour since founding the company in 1996 so this is a bit of a change.  Fortunately for him—and probably for the company as a whole—is simply vacating the role but not leaving entirely. Indeed, he will stick around to serve as an executive chairman and brand chief.

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

Under Armour has been struggling with both outside retailers and direct sales (through their website and stores), with sales falling last quarter.  They are having some trouble attracting new customers in the region, even as major brands like Nike, and smaller brands like Puma and Fila, are growing.  As a matter of fact, the company’s most recent earnings report show that US sales declined 3 percent, year-over-year.  This has contributed to the company lowering its forecast in the US, a signal that the brand expects these difficulties will continue.  

Bringing in Plank to lead the team, though, could be quite a smart strategy.  Though he has only been with the company since 2017, he is already the most recognizable face of the company.  For one, he defended Baltimore when President Donald Trump criticized Under Armour’s hometown only a few months ago.  

On the other hand, a recent Wall Street Journal report suggests that Plank had been soliciting business advice from MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle. While that may not be illegal, it did make some employees uncomfortable. In addition, a WSJ expose revealed the company’s culture would allow things like charging strip club visits to the corporate credit card.  

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