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Under Armour CEO Frisk will step down June 1; company begins executive search

Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk is leaving the Baltimore-based athletic apparel maker June 1 after little more than two years at the helm, the company announced late Wednesday.

Frisk, who also serves as president and engineered what the company billed as a recently completed multiyear turnaround of the sports brand, also will step down from the company’s board of directors.

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The apparel maker announced the change less than two weeks after posting a quarterly loss and missing revenue projections amid continuing supply chain and coronavirus pandemic-related challenges. The financial performance hammered the company’s stock price, which lost about a third of its value, and left some analysts questioning management’s ability.

Under Armour’s board has begun an internal and external search for a new president and CEO, the company said. Until a successor is named, Colin Browne, the company’s chief operating officer, will serve in those roles on an interim basis.

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Under Armour did not offer a reason for Frisk’s sudden departure, and a spokeswoman declined to make Frisk or founder and executive chairman Kevin Plank available for an interview.

Frisk plans to remain with the company as an adviser through Sept. 1.

Under a separation agreement, Frisk will receive $7.1 million in severance pay and an additional $1.3 million in consulting fees through September 2023, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Patrik for his valuable contributions to Under Armour over the past five years,” said Plank, also the company’s brand chief, in Wednesday’s announcement.

“During his tenure, we made significant strides in advancing enterprise-wide operational excellence, and Patrik’s steadfast leadership has been crucial to strengthening our foundation and positioning the company for our next growth phase,” Plank said.

Plank, who said he expects to work closely with the board to replace Frisk, said he sees a “huge opportunity” ahead for the brand as it evolves.

“In the meantime, we are moving forward and will continue to connect with athletes in exciting ways, offering them exactly what they need when they need it,” he said.

Frisk’s departure, while coming as a bit of a surprise, comes at a pivotal time for the brand undergoing a transformation that has been seen as successful outside of recent pandemic-related global supply challenges, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

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“It was something that wasn’t on the radar or wasn’t expected,” Saunders said. “That said, I think the departure does come at kind of a breakpoint because they have indicated that the transformation, the journey that they’ve been on, is kind of concluding. So he isn’t really leaving midstream. He’s not leaving things that are undone.”

Frisk, who had decades of retail leadership experience with brands such as global footwear company The Aldo Group, The North Face and Timberland, was brought in to Under Armour in 2017 to oversee Under Armour’s restructuring, aimed at stabilizing the business and reversing a slide in sales, particularly in North America.

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He took over from Plank as CEO in January 2020. The company credited Frisk with helping to create and lead a long-term strategic plan to restructure operations and sales.

“It has been the greatest privilege of my career to serve Under Armour athletes, customers, shareholders, and teammates,” Frisk said in the announcement, citing his work to strengthen the brand and solidify its operations. “I am extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished as a team.”

Browne, who joined Under Armour in 2016, has been chief operating officer since 2020. The company credited Browne with helping to improve the company’s profit margins and efficiency by working to modernize its digital “go-to-market” strategy and direct-to-consumer sales model. He also has worked to navigate global supply challenges caused by the pandemic.

In addition to the go-to-market strategy and supply chain, Browne has overseen global planning, sustainability, information technology, data management and distribution.

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He said he will use the transition period to “further our long-term goals.”

“What unifies and drives Under Armour is our purpose: to empower those who strive for more,” Browne said.

Under Armour shares, which had been trading in the low $20s late last year and were above $15 in early May, were down 2.2% at $10.30 in after-hours trading late Wednesday.


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