Under Armour Inc. named Marriott International Inc.’s Stephanie Linnartz as its new chief executive officer, with the incoming executive charged with recapturing the growth from the sportswear company’s earlier years.
Linnartz, a 25-year veteran of Marriott who currently serves as the hotel chain’s president, will take over at Under Armour on February 27, according to a statement December 21. She will succeed Patrik Frisk, who stepped down from the CEO position in May after two years.
Under Armour’s interim CEO, Colin Browne, will resume his position as chief operating officer when Linnartz comes on board.
Under Armour shares slipped 2.5% at 9:54 a.m. December 21, in New York trading. The stock has lost more than 50% of its value in 2022.
Linnartz “has a strong track record of leadership at one of the top hotel companies in the world,” Telsey analyst Cristina Fernández wrote in a research note. “A permanent CEO, especially one with the ability to manage brand experiences, should help regain investor confidence in the strategy and business model.”
Frisk revamped Under Armour’s operations and cut costs during his tenure. After he stepped down, Executive Chairman Kevin Plank said the board wanted to shift to a growth strategy after several years of restructuring.
The immediate challenge facing Under Armour and other apparel makers is a buildup of inventory in recent quarters, with resulting markdowns that have dented profitability. The unpredictability of consumer demand amid the pandemic, coupled with longer freight times and shipping disruptions, have made it difficult for companies including Under Armour to get their stocking levels right.
Even so, demand has held up despite stubbornly high inflation that has eroded many shoppers’ purchasing power. Revenue in the company’s latest quarter rose 2%, beating analyst estimates.
Linnartz “could help the company accelerate its digital and loyalty strategies, given her experience in those areas,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Poonam Goyal said in a research note. “Digital is 36% of Under Armour’s direct-to-consumer business and remains its fastest growing channel. Her experience with premier sports leagues and team partnerships might prove to be an asset for Under Armour.”
Linnartz’s responsibilities included overseeing Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program with 173 million members, and developing partnerships with the NFL, NCAA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team.
Under Armour's 2021 revenue was $5.683 billion.
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