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Under Armour Was A Real Threat To Nike. Now It’s Fighting To Stay Relevant

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Under Armour: AP Image

It was previously seen as a viable competitor to Nike. But at the moment, Under Armour, founded by a 23-year-old former collegiate athlete, is struggling to “just do it.”

Instead, the brand championed on the basketball court by Stephen Curry and on the golf course by Jordan Spieth is now struggling — badly — to find its footing in an increasingly competitive and crowded sportswear marketplace for regular people, where younger shoppers are more enamored with newer entrants like Hoka and On running shoes.

Under Armour’s annual sales have been lackluster at best in recent years, and the stock has fallen 88% since its all-time high in 2015. According to industry observers, the company is mired in an uncomfortable mix of challenges, including an identity crisis, many management disputes, neglecting emerging market trends to its harm, and a rapid succession of CEOs.

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CNN – VOR News Image

Under Armour Was A Real Threat To Nike. Now It’s Fighting To Stay Relevant

One of them is the company’s creator, Kevin Plank, who has returned as CEO for the second time after being removed in 2019. Like Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and Disney CEO Bob Iger, Plank seeks to right the ship at Under Armour.

“When Under Armour was growing at 20% or higher, people saw it as a legitimate competitor to Nike,” said David Swartz, senior equities analyst at Morningstar, in an interview with CNN.

“It was like On or Hoka a decade ago. The upstart athletic brand was making significant advances against Nike, the industry’s main brand. People regarded it as a firm that could break through and take Nike’s market share among serious athletes,” Swartz explained. “That actually did happen for a while, but then that didn’t last.”

Plank founded Under Armour in 1996 to provide what the name implies: a protective layer of clothing worn by competitive athletes sweating it out in the heat of the game.

The initial product was “The Shorty,” a fitted T-shirt composed of moisture-wicking fabric that professional athletes could wear beneath their uniforms to stay dry. The famous Under Armour “U” and “A” logo was deliberately placed on the neckline to keep it visible.

The T-shirt finally propelled the brand to the masses after gaining popularity among elite sportsmen immediately. Under Armour went public in 2005 due to the startup’s rapid success. Its early tagline was “Protect This House.”

By 2010, the company had surpassed $1 billion in revenue. Five years later, revenues topped $4 billion. But then the impetus began to ebb.

Prolonged period of discomfort.

Under Armour has struggled for the past eight years, and the situation does not look to improve.

The company announced a corporate restructuring on Thursday, following a 10% drop in North American revenues in the most recent quarter. The corporation has issued a bleak prediction for the current fiscal year, expecting sales to fall 15% to 17%. Layoffs would be part of the attempt to right the ship, although officials did not say how many people would lose their jobs.

Under Armour has launched a $500 million share buyback program to reward shareholders.

During the earnings call on Thursday, Plank stated that he will lead a business reset that focuses on selling fewer but more innovative products to meet the needs of athletes, significantly accelerating product development, refocusing on the men’s apparel category, and reducing product discounts

“We’re just doing too much stuff. There are too many items and projects. To rebuild this brand, we must be laser-focused and prioritize what needs to be done so that our staff know exactly what to do and have a clear definition of success for them,” Plank added.

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CNN – VOR News Image

Under Armour Was A Real Threat To Nike. Now It’s Fighting To Stay Relevant

It cannot be denied that management concerns have plagued the company for years, Swartz stated.

“The company has essentially had five CEOs in the past five years, if you count Kevin Plank twice,” stated Swartz. Plank was announced as CEO again in March, following Stephanie Linnartz’s brief year-long stint.

During the analyst call Thursday, Plank admitted that regular C-suite churn has significantly hindered success.

“With several CEOs and heads of product, marketing in North America over the past half-decade, ongoing turnover of critical leadership has been central to our inability to stay agile and decisive,” he stated.

According to Swartz, “things really started to fall apart” at Under Armour beginning in 2016. A major problem developed when an essential distribution route for the company went bankrupt and closed stores.

Under Armour’s products are mostly offered through athletic goods merchants and department stores, such as Macy’s and Kohl’s, as well as online.

“When Sports Authority declared bankruptcy in 2016, Under Armour suffered greatly. It was a significant customer for the brand, as was Dick’s Sporting Goods,” Schwartz stated.

UCLA sued Under Armour in 2020 after terminating a $280 million sponsorship agreement. The lawsuit claimed that Under Armour was struggling before Covid-19 and used the epidemic as an excuse to withdraw from the agreement.

According to Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, a sports and entertainment organization that examines sponsorships and advertising campaigns, the brand’s long-term celebrity-brand collaborations are performing well.

“Under Armour’s partnership with ‘The Rock’, Dwayne Johnson, has been quite successful. They’ve expanded into the United Football League, which Johnson co-owns,” Smallwood explained. “Their uniforms are Under Armour.”

According to Smallwood, the brand is also making advances in golf, and the Stephen Curry alliance has kept it visible in the basketball world.

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CNN – VOR news Image

Under Armour Was A Real Threat To Nike. Now It’s Fighting To Stay Relevant

In 2013, basketball superstar Stephen Curry, probably the finest shooter in history, notably signed for Under Armour over Nike. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid, the brand’s other prominent NBA star, left Under Armour in 2023, just months after being awarded the league’s most valuable player.

Embiid inked a sneaker contract with Skechers last month. Under Armour reportedly bid strongly for WNBA star Caitlin Clark, who is expected to sign with Nike.

“The bottomline for Under Armour is for the brand to be clear about its identity,” he stated. “Are they a shoe company?” Are they an apparel company? Everyone else eventually replicated their moisture-wicking undershirt. Then, perhaps they experienced an identity crisis. It will come down to determining if they want to expand into a lifestyle brand or stick with performance-based products.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

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Starbucks | PixaBay Image

Washington: In a decision sparked by a labor dispute with Starbucks, the Supreme Court on Thursday made it more difficult for the federal government to obtain court orders when it suspected a corporation of meddling in unionization efforts.

The justices raised the bar on when a federal court may require worker jobs to be protected during a union organizing drive.

A higher standard, pushed by Starbucks that must be satisfied in most other disputes over court orders or injunctions, was favored by the court unanimously over a provision that some courts had applied to orders requested by the National Labour Relations Board.

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Starbucks | PixaBay Image

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

The National Labour Relations Act, which controls the agency, has, the NLRB had contended, permitted judges to issue temporary injunctions for over 75 years if they determined that the requests were “just and proper.” According to the agency, the statute was meant to restrict the power of the courts and does not need it to demonstrate any additional elements.

“Consistent federal standards are important in ensuring that employees know their rights and consistent labour practices are upheld no matter where in the country they work and live,” Starbucks stated after the ruling.

However, Lynne Fox, head of the union representing the workers, claimed that Starbucks should have abandoned the lawsuit as part of its more accommodating stance on union organizing initiatives. When their employers disobey the law, working people have very few options for self-defense. That makes today’s Supreme Court decision especially horrible, said Workers United president Fox.

Starbucks fired seven employees in February 2022 for attempting to organize their Tennessee location. The matter moved through the agency’s administrative procedures while the NLRB won a court order requiring the employer to rehire the employees. Two years may pass during such procedures.

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Starbucks | AP news image

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

Starbucks was ordered to rehire the employees in August 2022 by a temporary injunction issued by a district court judge who concurred with the NLRB. Starbucks appealed to the Supreme Court following the upholding of that decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to Workers United, the union organizing Starbucks workers, five of the seven workers are still employed at the Memphis store, while the other two continue involved with the organizing campaign. The Memphis store voted to unionize in June 2022.

As the case proceeded, antagonism between Workers United and Starbucks began to dissolve. The two parties declared in February that they would reopen talks to complete contract agreements this year, and they convened their first bargaining session in nearly a year in late April.

starbucks

Starbucks | PixaBay Image

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder For NLRB To Win Court Orders In Labor Disputes

According to the NLRB, workers at 437 company-owned U.S. Starbucks cafes have voted to unionize since late 2021, but none of those stores has achieved a labor agreement with Starbucks.

Starbucks said it’s pursuing its goal of obtaining finalized contracts for those outlets this year.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

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Musk | AP News Image

SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk dismissed his lawsuit against OpenAI just before a scheduled hearing on Wednesday.

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Musk | Euro News Image

Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

Musk sued the San Francisco artificial intelligence business and its CEO Sam Altman in February, accusing them of betraying the ChatGPT maker’s basic goals of serving humanity rather than maximising profits.

In the February lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, billionaire Musk claimed that when he bankrolled OpenAI’s creation, he reached an agreement with Altman and the president, Greg Brockman, to keep the AI company as a nonprofit that would develop technology for the public’s benefit and keep its code open rather than walling it off for private profit.

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Musk | AP News Image

Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

However, Musk claimed in the complaint that by embracing a tight relationship with Microsoft, OpenAI and its top executives “aflame” that pact and are “perverting” the company’s objective.

Most legal experts believe Musk’s accusations, which revolve around allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair business practices, are unlikely to succeed in court. Musk’s attorney submitted a notice on Tuesday seeking to dismiss the entire case. There was no explanation for why it was being dropped.

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Musk | AP news Image

Elon Musk Drops Lawsuit Against ChatGPT-Maker OpenAI Without Explanation

Musk’s lawyers and OpenAI did not immediately return calls for comment.

SOURCE – (AP)

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American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

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Martin Shkreli | AP News Image

NEW YORK — Martin Shkreli, an American investor, is facing a new lawsuit for allegedly storing and sharing recordings from a unique Wu-Tang Clan album that he was forced to sell after being convicted of securities fraud in 2017.

PleasrDAO, a cryptocurrency collective, filed the case on Monday after paying Shkreli $4.75 million for the only known copy of the album. The record, “Once Upon a Time is Shaolin,” has remained unreleased to the public, serving as a rare contemporary art piece since it was auctioned off by the renowned hip-hop group in 2015.

PleasrDAO accused Shkreli of violating their agreement by retaining digital copies of the album and circulating them extensively among his social media followers in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

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Shkreli | AP News Image

American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

They allude to his recent social media posts boasting of distributing the digital recordings to “thousands of people.” According to the lawsuit, Shkreli played bits of the album during a livestream he hosted on X over the weekend, referring to it as a “Wu tang official listening party.”

Shkreli has not responded to a request for comment.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a unique record created in protest of music’s devaluation in the streaming era but purchased at auction by Shkreli, a man infamous for inflating the price of a life-saving prescription and his “Pharma Bro” reputation.

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Shkreli | Coin Base Image

American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

Following his conviction on securities fraud charges, Shkreli was compelled to sell the CD, which came in a hand-crafted silver and nickel casing and included a 174-page leather-bound book.

PleasrDAO stated that it purchased both the physical copy of the record and its digital rights in two transactions, in 2021 and 2024. They stated that Shkreli had erased all traces of the album’s files.

“Any dissemination of the Album’s music to the general public greatly diminishes and/or destroys the Album’s value, and significantly damages PleasrDAO’s reputation and ability to commercially exploit the Album,” the complaint claims.

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Shkreli | SF Gate Image

American Investor Martin Shkreli Accused Of Copying And Sharing One-Of-A-Kind Wu-Tang Clan Album

As of last month, the record was on its way to Australia’s Museum of Old and New Art, which announced that it would begin hosting private listening sessions this week showcasing chosen album tracks.

SOURCE – (AP)

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