Puma has signed up Rihanna as creative director to raise its profile in women’s sportswear

Puma, the German sportswear brand, says it is sticking to its profit and sales forecasts despite being weighed down by currency fluctuations in the first quarter.

In the three months to the end of March, sales came in at €851.9m, up 3.7 per cent from €821.4m in the same period a year earlier. Operating profit climbed 4 per cent to €25.8m, the company said on Friday. Analysts had expected €27m, according to a Reuters poll.

Like other sportswear companies, Puma, which sponsors Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, sources many of its products in Asia via contracts denominated in US dollars. However, it has significant revenues in euros, and Bjørn Gulden, chief executive, said currency movements had not been favourable in the first quarter.

On an underlying basis, Mr Gulden said Puma had lifted revenues “in all segments and in all regions”. The best performance was in the Asia-Pacific region, where sales were up 11.2 per cent once currency moves had been stripped out. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa sales rose 6.6 per cent and in the Americas 5.4 per cent.

Puma has signed up the singer Rihanna as its creative director to boost its profile in the women’s sportswear market, where Mr Gulden said growth had been “especially strong”.

Along with rivals Nike and Adidas, Puma is limbering up for a bumper year of sport. The coming months will feature the Olympic Games in Brazil, where Bolt will attempt an unprecedented third sweep of the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay titles, the European football championships in France, and the Copa América in South America.

Mr Gulden said the events would be a chance for Puma, which will provide the shirts for a number of teams at the European championships, to showcase itself.

Puma said in February that it was expecting a “high single-digit increase” in sales on a currency neutral basis, and operating profits of between €115m and €125m in 2016.

Shares in Puma, which is majority owned by Kering, the French luxury conglomerate, were down 2.59 per cent at €201,25 in morning trading in Frankfurt.

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