Under Armour on Thursday announced its new head of North America in Stephanie Pugliese, previously the CEO and president of Duluth Trading Company. She will report to COO Patrik Frisk starting Sept. 16, according to a company press release.
Pugliese's appointment comes after previous President of North America Jason LaRose left the company in April. Prior to joining Under Armour, Pugliese held several leadership roles at Duluth Trading Company, as well as Lands' End and Ann Inc.
In an emailed press release, Duluth Trading Company named Executive Chairman and founder Steve Schlecht as Pugliese's replacement while the retailer searches for a new CEO.
A few months after the departure of LaRose, Under Armour has found a new executive to helm the North America region, which has been a trouble spot for the retailer lately.
In the first two quarters of the year, Under Armour's North America revenue fell by 3% while international revenue rose by 12%. CEO Kevin Plank, however, called the second quarter "a great stabilization quarter for us," and Frisk noted that executives were "bullish on the North American consumer" going forward.
That's where Pugliese comes in. Fresh eyes on the North America region could help the retailer turn around that side of the business. Frisk praised Pugliese's "demonstrated record of leadership" as a key to strengthening Under Armour's position in the market.
"Our strategy in North America continues to be centered on three main elements: a focus on premium, full price distribution to protect the Under Armour brand; deepening the connection with our consumers; and an unrelenting prioritization around operational excellence," Frisk said in a statement. "It is leadership that ultimately brings these elements into alignment and gives us increasing confidence in our ability to build an even more powerful brand while increasing long-term, shareholder return."
Pugliese's presence might also help the retailer in other ways. Schlecht commented that her leadership helped Duluth Trading Co. develop "a thriving women's business," as well as expand its footprint and omnichannel platform.
Under Armour, for its part, is not always the first brand that comes to mind when it comes to women's sportswear, something some analysts attribute to its focus on performance over the more styled looks of Lululemon or Athleta.
The retailer also does not have many female executives in its top ranks. According to Retail Dive's analysis of sportswear brands over the past decade, Under Armour had five consecutive years with no female executives listed under its "Executive Officers of the Registrant" and six years in a row with only one woman, responsible for human resources.
Pugliese's hiring seems to be a step toward a more diverse executive team.