PUMA has continued its brand mission to become the fastest sports brand in the world. Therefore, we continued to focus on the following six strategic priorities: create brand heat, develop product ranges that are right for our consumers, build a comprehensive offer for women, improve the quality of our distribution, increase the speed and efficiency of our organizational infrastructure and strengthen our positioning in the North American market by leveraging our re-entry into basketball. In 2020, we also added an even stronger focus on local relevance and sustainability as additional strategic priorities for PUMA.
For more than 70 years, PUMA has created brand heat by partnering with the most famous and successful athletes: Usain Bolt, Sir Lewis Hamilton, Pelé, Maradona, Tommie Smith, Boris Becker, Linford Christie, Serena Williams, Heike Drechsler and Martina Navratilova, just to name a few. Today, PUMA continues to strengthen its position as a sports brand through partnerships with some of the most famous ambassadors: the Italian national football team, star strikers Antoine Griezmann, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Agüero and Luis Suarez, top football manager Pep Guardiola, international top clubs Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Valencia CF, Olympique Marseille and AC Milan, golf stars Lexi Thompson, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau, seven-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, Norwegian hurdler and world champion Karsten Warholm, Canadian sprinter André De Grasse, Swedish pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis and the Jamaican and Cuban Olympic Federations. In 2020, we also added Brazilian football star Neymar Jr. to our roster of world-class assets, underlining our continued focus on the football category. Teaming up with the best athletes, teams and federations is key in keeping the credibility of the PUMA brand at the highest levels. To connect with young, trend-setting consumers, PUMA also drives brand heat by working with icons of culture and fashion such as Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne, Winnie Harlow and Dua Lipa. This has made PUMA one of the hottest sports and fashion brands for young consumers.
PUMA aims to design “cool stuff that works” and in 2020, we significantly improved our product offering across all our business units. In performance footwear, we keep on moving forward with the revolutionary PUMA ULTRA football boot and our running & training shoes based on our proprietary NITRO, HYBRID and XETIC technology platforms.
In Sportstyle, we continued to see strong sell-through of our key footwear product families of RS, RIDER, and CALI. The demand from our consumers for these franchises has been maintained through the launch of strong new models in 2020. The Classics pillar with models such as the iconic SUEDE, the RALPH SAMPSON or the SPEEDCAT also continued to perform strongly throughout the year.
In apparel and accessories, we saw a good development across the portfolio, especially from motorsport and basketball apparel as well as our essentials offering, which includes socks and underwear.
Our COBRA Golf and PUMA Golf business also showed a strong performance in 2020, mainly driven by higher sales of our innovative COBRA Golf clubs. Especially our COBRA Golf SPEEDZONE Drivers enjoyed market share growth globally with the introduction of the innovative CNC Milled Infinity Face leading to maximum ball speed and higher precision - a first in the golf industry.
Creating a leading product offer for women remains a priority for PUMA and we continue our mission to be the most fashion-forward sports brand for the female consumer. In 2020 we evolved our positioning of “PUMA owns the space where the gym meets the runway” as more and more women take up sports worldwide and athletic wear has long made its way into everyday outfits. As we identified a culture shift in our female consumer from “me” to “we” we defined our new “She Moves Us” communications platform, which celebrates women who move together to achieve and connect – through sport, culture and values.
Returning to basketball, with an approach that resonated well on and off the court, was an important step towards increasing our credibility as a sports brand in North America. With the support of JAY-Z, our Creative Director for basketball, we developed a strong product offering across footwear, apparel and accessories that can be worn on and off the court. We also continued to work with highly talented NBA players across several teams and gained great on-court visibility when PUMA athletes Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green won this year’s NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. Signing a long-term partnership with the top 2020 NBA prospect LaMelo Ball further underlines our commitment to basketball. Our basketball business also continues to grow beyond the key North American market, and we saw continued strength in our performance basketball product portfolio and basketball inspired Sportstyle product families such as the RALPH SAMPSON.
While basketball is especially important for North America, we also focused on ensuring strong local relevance in all our other markets worldwide. As the PUMA brand and products continue to resonate well around the world, we see an increased need to focus on the sports, ambassadors, collaboration partners and communication platforms that are most relevant in the different markets. A good example for this is India, where we have a market-leading position in part due to our strong presence in the nation’s most popular sport of cricket and our long-term partnership with Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian national cricket team. We also continued to strengthen our position in other locally relevant sports such as handball, netball, rugby or Australian rules football. Over the years, we have also established a strong portfolio of locally relevant brand ambassadors and influencers that complement our roster of top global assets and strengthened our presence on locally relevant communication platforms such as Weibo, Youku or WeChat in China. In order to be closer to the market and to ensure a strong local relevance of our products, we also have Regional Creation Centers in key markets such as North America, Europe, India, China and Japan that work in part on joint product creation projects with local collaboration partners.
PUMA improved the quality of its distribution and expanded its presence in key Sports Performance and Sportstyle accounts around the world. We continued to strengthen the relationships with our retailers by being a flexible and service-oriented business partner, also throughout the COVID-19 crisis. By improving sell-through, we further expanded the shelf space given to us in our partners’ retail stores. In parallel, we also continued to invest in our direct-to-consumer business which includes our owned-and-operated retail stores as well as our e-commerce business. Due to mandatory store closures during the COVID-19 crisis and an accelerated shift towards digital, we saw strong growth in our e-commerce business and invested in our respective front-end and back-end capabilities. We continued to improve the user experience and product offering on our existing e-commerce channels and launched a new e-commerce site in the important Mexican market. We also increased our investments into performance marketing to drive traffic and conversion in all our e-commerce channels. Furthermore, PUMA continued to upgrade its owned-and-operated retail store network and opened selective new doors around the world.
Operationally, we continued to improve infrastructure, processes and systems that are required to support our overall growth ambition. In 2020, a strong focus was put on expanding our logistical network in key markets. Our new, highly automated multi-channel distribution center in Indianapolis, USA successfully went live in the second quarter of 2020 and an additional multi-channel distribution center in Geiselwind, Germany is expected to open in the second quarter of 2021. New state-of-the-art distribution centers like the ones in Geiselwind and Indianapolis are providing us with the required back-end infrastructure to support our future growth in the wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels.
Beyond distribution center expansion, PUMA continued to focus on standardization of ERP systems and enhancements of product development tools. This, combined with improvements of the overall IT infrastructure, enabled faster and better communication and information exchange within PUMA and with our external partners. Due to the travel restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis, we also invested in additional digital capabilities along the whole go-to-market process, from virtual product development to virtual sell-in meetings.
In sourcing, the long-term collaboration with suppliers remains the key component of our sourcing strategy to ensure a stable sourcing base, consistent quality of our products and being well prepared for changes in the trade environment. The strong collaboration with our suppliers, who are mainly based in Far East, has helped us during the COVID-19 crisis and contributed to a very resilient supply chain situation throughout the year.
While social, economic and environmental sustainability has always been a core value for PUMA, we want to place an even higher strategic emphasis on this topic with a special focus on increasing the number of sustainable products in our ranges and stronger consumer-facing communication. In 2020 we officially announced our 10FOR25 targets that outline our ambitious sustainability-related objectives until the year 2025 and which link back to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, we also launched our FOREVER BETTER communication platform that will serve as the overarching umbrella of all our consumer-facing communication on sustainability. Because of our increased focus on developing more sustainable products, we successfully introduced the PUMA x FIRST MILE and PUMA x CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS sustainability collections with strong feedback from our retailers and end consumers. Other product highlights include the Time4Change youth collection made of organic cotton. PUMA also continued its leading role at the Fashion Charter for Climate Action and continued to work with key stakeholders on all levels to promote more sustainable business practices within our industry. In relation to human rights, we took all required actions to safeguard our suppliers and workers during the pandemic by honoring our purchasing commitments and ensuring that all workplace safety and legal standards are met through our long-standing social compliance program.