Irish looking for new kit as Puma exits rugby in Europe

FRANKFURT Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:36am EST

FRANKFURT Jan 24 (Reuters) - Germany's Puma is withdrawing from sponsoring rugby in Europe, leaving the Irish Rugby Union team looking for a new kit provider, the company said on Thursday.

The Irish Rugby Football Union, Puma's biggest sponsorship in the sport, said Puma would continue to supply kit to cover the 2013/14 rugby season.

"With the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, the 18-month time scale for the ongoing supply of kit allows us ample time to source a world class kit partner to replace the Puma brand," IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said in a joint statement with Puma.

Puma, whose shoes are worn by sprinter Usain Bolt and soccer player Cesc Fabregas, is trimming its product range and cutting back on less lucrative sponsorship deals to counter falling profits as part of its biggest reorganisation in 20 years.

Owner PPR, which also controls the Gucci luxury brand, is also shaking up management at the German company, with chief executive Franz Koch to leave in March.

A spokeswoman for Puma declined to comment further.

The company will publish annual results on February 14.

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