The new CEO for Adidas is no stranger to the sneaker world – or competition.
Bjørn Gulden, who recently took over the top position at the German sportswear giant Adidas, has spent most of his adult life connected to the world of athletic footwear. A former professional football player in Europe, Gulden is 57 years old and most recently spent nearly a decade at Puma. Notably, both Adidas and Puma are based in the small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach; and have been rivals for generations. In the 1920s they began as a single shoe factory that was founded by two brothers, who later fell out after the Second World War. Since then, each has become a household name in the world of sports and fashion, but Adidas is approximately three times larger than its sibling.
Gulden's departure from Puma at the end of 2022 was unwelcome news to many stockholders who'd benefited from his skills as a leader during the past decade. Simply said, Gulden put Puma back on the map. For instance, he was responsible for collaborations with Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Selena Gomez, among others. Decisions like this helped the company soar in market shares for basketball-related items. Under Gulden’s leadership, Puma's annual sales reached record highs, increasing 32% to $7.46 million; and profits reached $610.88 million, marking the brand’s all-time strongest results.
Gulden was born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1965. He is a Norwegian national. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Rogaland, Norway; and an MBA from the Babson Graduate School of Business, U.S. Following his life as a professional footballer, he began working as a financial and marketing consultant.
This is Gulden's second stint at Adidas. From 1992 to 1999, he served as a SVP in various departments for Adidas. Then from 2000 to 2011 he served as Managing Director for Europe’s largest shoe retailer, Deichmann. He also held the CEO position for Danish jewelry brand Pandora; served as the president of Rack Room Shoes; had a management post at the outdoor apparel company Helly Hansen; and was at one point chairman of the board of the Salling Group, Denmark’s largest food retailer. After so much success, Gulden is now giving everyone at Adidas a reason to be optimistic.