Just a few days after confirming the company was in talks with Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden, Adidas has officially selected the executive as its next CEO. Gulden will start Jan. 1 and current CEO Kasper Rorsted will step down on Nov. 11, according to a company press release.
Rorsted’s departure is sooner than expected, as the athletics brand said in August that he would leave the company in 2023. Chief Financial Officer Harm Ohlmeyer will lead the company in the interim.
Gulden is succeeded at Puma by Chief Commercial Officer Arne Freundt, a 10-year veteran of the athletics brand, who was initially expected to take over the CEO post in January, but now will become CEO effective immediately.
Gulden has extensive experience in retail, including as CEO of Pandora, managing director of Europe’s largest footwear retailer Deichmann, and various positions at outdoor company Helly Hansen. He also served as Adidas’ senior vice president of apparel and accessories for seven years in the ‘90s, and has been CEO of Adidas’ hometown rival Puma since 2013.
“We are very pleased to welcome Bjørn Gulden back at Adidas. Bjørn Gulden brings almost 30 years of experience in the sporting goods and footwear industry. As a result, he knows the industry extremely well and draws on a rich network in sport and retail,” Thomas Rabe, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Adidas, said in a statement. “Bjørn Gulden already served Adidas successfully for seven years in the 1990s. As CEO of Puma, he re-invigorated the brand and led the company to record results … Bjørn Gulden will head Adidas into a new era of strength.”
The company also thanked Rorsted for his leadership, praising him for doubling the company’s North American sales, selling off non-core businesses like Reebok, and strengthening its sustainability and diversity initiatives.