'It's an Innovate or Die Industry' PUMA North America CEO Says of Tech-Forward Flagship Store

Bob Philion, president and CEO of PUMA North America.
August 28, 2019

PUMA has pounced on New York City with the opening of its first flagship store in North America this week in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

"One of the things we're trying to do here in New York is blend the influence of sport, lifestyle, and fashion, and do it with some new technology that we've got inside the location," Bob Philion, president and CEO of PUMA North America, told Cheddar Wednesday.

PUMA gave Cheddar an inside look at the new store before its official opening. Philion said he considers the location near Rockefeller Center to be on the "50-yard line of Fifth Avenue."

Some of the innovations shoppers will find are shoes featuring "liquid cell technology" and "magic mirrors" that allow customers to try products on and call for a store associate.

"I think it's an innovate or die industry," Philion said. "So that innovation can come from technology, come from design, it could come from color. I think we're constantly trying to challenge ourselves to bring newness to the consumer, and I think that's what's winning in the marketplace. It is all about newness and innovation, and so this store gives us a chance to kind of put that on display."

Amid the excitement surround the flagship's opening, Philion recognizes challenges the company faces with increasing tariff threats and the trade war between the U.S. and China.

"Specific to the tariffs, we're like a lot of global companies, right? We were diversified at the same time," Philion said. "We have a reliance on the China market. We're a public company, and so you can kind of see our results. We have a sizable business in Asia, in particular in China, and so we're trying to stay nimble and navigate the waters the best that we can."

PUMA's new store opens to the public Thursday.