PUMA has continued its brand mission to become the fastest sports brand in the world and continued to focus on its existing eight strategic priorities: create brand heat, develop product ranges that are right for the consumers, build a comprehensive offer for women, improve the quality of our distribution, increase the speed and efficiency of our organizational infrastructure, strengthen our positioning in the North American market by leveraging our re-entry into basketball and an even stronger focus on local relevance and sustainability.
For more than 70 years, PUMA has created brand heat by working with the most famous and successful athletes in history: 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. In football, we continue to work with star players such as Antoine Griezmann, Neymar Jr. and Nikita Parris, top football manager Pep Guardiola, world-leading federations such as the Italian National team and international top clubs such as Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Valencia CF, Olympique Marseille, AC Milan, and Palmeiras São Paulo. In 2021, we also added French national team players Raphaël Varane and Kingsley Coman as well as U.S. player Christian Pulisic to our roster of world-class assets, underlining our continued focus on the football category. In track & field, we have also established a strong line-up of world-leading athletes including Norwegian hurdler and world record holder Karsten Warholm, Canadian sprinter André De Grasse, Swedish pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis, American long-distance runner Molly Seidel and the Jamaican Olympic Federations who all stood out at this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In Motorsport, our Formula 1 teams Mercedes AMG Petronas, Red Bull Racing Honda and Scuderia Ferrari dominated yet another season. We continued to work closely with seven-time world champion and PUMA brand ambassador Sir Lewis Hamilton and established our own team in the W Series, the international single seater championship for female drivers only. In golf, we ensured continued brand heat through our long-term partnerships with iconic players such as Lexi Thompson, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau. Teaming up with the best athletes, teams and federations is key in keeping the credibility and relevance 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 Jay-Z, J. Cole, Cara Delevingne, Winnie Harlow and Dua Lipa. This has made PUMA one of the hottest sports brands for young consumers around the world.
PUMA aims to design “cool stuff that works” and in 2021, we significantly improved our product offering across all our business units. In performance footwear, we keep on moving forward with our innovative PUMA ULTRA and FUTURE Z football boots as well as our running & training shoes featuring our proprietary NITRO cushioning technology. Our new lineup of running shoes offer an effortless run and received very positive reviews from runners and the media alike and featured prominently at this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
In Sportstyle, we continued to see strong sell-through of our key footwear product families such as RS, RIDER, and CALI. The demand from our consumers for these product families was maintained through the launch of successful new models in 2021 and we also added a lot of newness with the introduction of styles such as the MAYZE or the MAYU. The Classics pillar of our business, with models such as the iconic PUMA SUEDE, also continued to perform strongly throughout the year.
In apparel and accessories, we also saw a good development across all of our business units, with strong sell-through of our performance and Sportstyle products, including multiple successful collaborations with companies such as French-Japanese fashion label Maison Kitsuné or Chinese high-end designer brand PRONOUNCE.
Our COBRA Golf and PUMA Golf business had another successful year with strong sales of our innovative COBRA Golf clubs as well as PUMA Golf Footwear, Apparel and Accessories. We also extended our golf club offering by introducing our first generation of putters, including our first 3D-printed putter.
The women's category remains a key strategic priority for PUMA, manifested in our continued vision to be the most fashion forward sports brand. With increasing female sports participation worldwide and the combination of sportswear and fashion being more popular than ever, PUMA meets the female consumer with a comprehensive product offer across performance and Sportstyle, as well as inclusive product initiatives like extended sizing and maternity wear. The launch of our new women’s communications platform SHE MOVES US in March 2021, represents the evolved positioning of “PUMA owns the space where the gym meets the runway”. Our new SHE MOVES US communications platform, celebrates women who move together to achieve and connect – through sport, culture, and values. Led by global pop superstar Dua Lipa, PUMA has brought together its top female brand ambassadors to generate inspiring content over the course of 2021, such as talks, videos and interviews. By connecting its ambassadors with female consumers around the world, we created a global network, which sparks a conversation around issues important to girls and women. PUMA will continue to empower girls and young women through its partnership with Women Win, a global women’s fund which uses sport to advance gender equality from the bottom up. PUMA will continue to use its communications channels to spotlight the joint efforts to impact girls and women’s rights globally. An increased focus on women in sports will mark the year 2022. Together with our female ambassadors this has been identified as a key area for girls and young women to achieve health and prosper as individuals and team members.
Our re-entry into basketball, with an approach that resonates 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 over the past seasons that can be worn on and off the court. We also continued to partner with highly talented NBA players across several teams and signed additional players such as Killian Hayes. PUMA player LaMelo Ball was voted Rookie of the year in the NBA. In close collaboration with LaMelo Ball, we developed and launched the PUMA MB.01 – his first personal PUMA signature shoe. We also signed Breanna “Stewie” Stewart, the most valuable player in the WNBA, who will get her own signature shoe in 2022. In order to further strengthen our position in women’s basketball, we created and launched our first women’s basketball collection in close collaboration with stylist and designer June Ambrose, who joined PUMA as a creative director in 2020. Our basketball business continues to grow beyond the key North American market, and we onboarded national teams like the Russian and Turkish basketball federations and the Israeli double holder Maccabi Tel Aviv. Our basketball inspired Sportstyle products, such as the PUMA CLYDE and RALPH SAMPSON, continued to resonate well with our consumers.
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 very well around the world, we see an increased need to focus on the trends, sports, ambassadors, collaboration partners and communication platforms that are most relevant in the different markets. Therefore, we further strengthened our regional creation centers, which are located in important markets such as the US, Europe, China, India, and Japan and create locally relevant products. In parallel, we increased our local-for-local sourcing setup in key markets such as China to react faster to changes in local consumer preferences. We also continued to strengthen our position in several locally relevant sports such as cricket, handball, netball, rugby, or Australian rules football. Over the years, we have established a strong portfolio of locally relevant brand ambassadors and influencers such as Pamela Reif in Germany, Virat Kohli in India or Danna Paola in Mexico, who complement our roster of top global ambassadors. The COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted our markets very differently in the course of 2021, has confirmed PUMA’s belief to empower our local teams and give them the freedom and tools to react quickly to changes in the markets they know best.
PUMA improved the quality of its distribution and expanded its presence in leading 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. At a time of limited product supply due to COVID-19-related lockdowns in key sourcing countries, we prioritized our retailers and worked very closely together with them to improve the sell-through of our products and gain more shelf space in their 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. Our e-commerce business continued to grow by double-digits and we invested in our respective front-end and back-end capabilities. We continued to improve the user experience and product offering of our existing e-commerce channels and launched new e-commerce sites in important markets such as Mexico, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. We also developed our first-ever PUMA shopping app, which we will launch in pilot markets in early 2022 and we increased our investments in performance marketing to drive traffic and conversion across all our e-commerce channels. Furthermore, PUMA continued to upgrade its owned-and-operated retail store network and opened selective new Full-Price Stores and Factory Outlet Centers around the world, as consumer traffic and demand rebounded and stores re-opened after COVID-19-related lockdowns.
Operationally, we continued to improve the infrastructure, processes and systems that are required to support our overall growth ambition for the upcoming years. In 2021, a strong focus was put on expanding our logistics network in key markets. We successfully opened our highly automated multi-channel distribution center in Geiselwind, Germany. New state-of-the-art distribution centers like the one in Geiselwind provide us with the required back-end infrastructure to support our future growth in the Wholesale and Direct-to-Consumer channels. Our teams in the Unites States moved into a new headquarter in Somerville, MA and we inaugurated new modern offices in several countries such as France and Sweden.
Moreover, we continued to focus on further developing our ERP systems and enhancing our product development tools. This, combined with improvements of the overall IT infrastructure, enabled faster and better communication and information exchange with internal and external stakeholders. Due to continued travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we also invested in additional digital capabilities along the go-to-market process, from virtual product development to virtual sell-in meetings.
The long-term collaboration with our valued suppliers remains the key component of our sourcing strategy. It ensures a stable sourcing base, consistent quality of our products and prepares us for future growth and changes in the trading environment. The strong collaboration with our suppliers, who are mainly based in Asia, has helped us during the COVID-19 pandemic and has contributed to a very resilient supply chain situation throughout the year, despite several lockdowns in key sourcing countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Sustainability remains one of our strategic priorities and we continue to fully integrate sustainable practices into every aspect of our business with a special focus on increasing the number of sustainable products in our ranges and stronger consumer-facing communication. In 2021, we continued to build on our FOREVER BETTER communication platform, which serves as the overarching umbrella for all consumer-facing communication on sustainability. All of our sustainability efforts are connected and are measured against our 10FOR25 targets, which are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and outline our ambitious objectives until the year 2025. One of these ambitious targets is to increase the share of products with more sustainable materials from 5 out of 10 products in 2020 to 9 out of 10 products in 2025. In order to reach these targets, we successfully launched several more sustainable collections such as PUMA x FIRST MILE with products made from recycled polyester, the EXHALE yoga collection co-created with Cara Delevingne, which uses recycled polyester, natural dyes, and offsets unavoidable carbon emissions and the RE.GEN collection, which is made from regenerated materials from our own industry waste. Other highlights include our new BETTER FOAM in footwear, a material partly made from sugarcane. In 2021, PUMA committed to protecting forests around the world when sourcing paper, cardboard, and viscose, as part of its new partnership with not-for-profit environmental organization Canopy. We continued our leading role at the Fashion Charter for Climate Action, which at the climate conference COP26 in Glasgow announced more ambitious climate action, to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. PUMA worked with other key stakeholders on all levels to promote more sustainable business practices in our industry. In relation to human rights, we took the necessary actions to safeguard our suppliers and workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by honoring all of our purchasing commitments. We also ensured that all workplace safety and legal standards were met through our long-standing social compliance program.