2020 was a very difficult year for the sporting goods industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our approach was to manage the crisis short term without hindering PUMA’s mid-term momentum. Accordingly, our primary goal was to survive the crisis, to recover and then to emerge stronger from the crisis with growth. The health and safety of our employees, business partners and customers were given top priority. We were also very focused on limiting the inevitable decline in sales wherever possible, protecting the supply chain, reducing costs and securing liquidity.
With respect to our organizational development and progress within our logistics network, the opening of the new Indianapolis distribution center in the USA was a major milestone for PUMA. In addition, work continued in 2020 at our new logistics center for Central Europe located in Geiselwind, Germany, which is expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2021.
We are very proud of how we have handled this difficult period so far. Our employees worldwide have helped us survive this crisis thanks to their flexibility, pragmatism, determination and positive attitude. In doing so, they have worked closely with our manufacturers, customers, lessors, banks, logistics partners and other partners to ensure that we are able to find solutions together to maintain the business and value chain. Our long-standing and reliable cooperation with many of our partners was one of the most important success factors for us in managing the pandemic during the past financial year.
The sales development seen in the individual quarters, which varied considerably during the year due to the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in a currency-adjusted sales decrease of 1.4% for the full year 2020 compared to 2019. While sales in wholesale and in our own retail stores declined, our e-commerce business recorded significant sales growth. PUMA therefore managed to keep the sales decrease resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to a minimum. However, despite the cost reduction measures initiated immediately at the end of the first quarter and during the second quarter, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant negative impact on our profitability. As a result of the decline in sales and gross profit margin, which could not be compensated for by cost-saving measures, our operating result (EBIT) saw an overall decrease of 52.5% to €209.2 million in 2020 (previous year: €440.2 million). Earnings per share amounted to €0.53 in 2020 (previous year: €1.76). Despite the severe negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the second quarter, PUMA was thus able to achieve positive net earnings and positive earnings per share for the full year 2020.
With regard to the balance sheet, we believe that PUMA continues to have an extremely solid capital base. As of the balance sheet date, the PUMA Group’s equity amounted to more than €1.7 billion and the equity ratio was just under 38%.
Our consistent focus on strict working capital management and our efforts to secure our liquidity in 2020 have resulted in an increase in cash and cash equivalents (to €655.9 million) and an increase in our unutilized credit lines as of the balance sheet date (to €1,372.7 million). In this context, the new credit line of €900 million, taken out in May last year via a banking consortium of twelve banks - including a direct commitment by the German state-owned development bank KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) in the amount of €625 million - was already reduced by €700 million to just €200 million at the end of 2020, as PUMA secured new promissory note loans of €250 million in December 2020 for refinancing purposes and increased its existing credit lines with banks by €450 million.
As a result, the net asset, financial and income situation of the PUMA Group is overall solid at the time the Combined Management Report was prepared. This enables the Management Board and the Supervisory Board to propose to the Annual General Meeting on May 5, 2021, a dividend of €0.16 per share for the financial year 2020. This corresponds to a payout ratio of 30.3% in relation to the consolidated net earnings and is in line with our dividend policy.