FRANKFURT Jan 24 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
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.