Despite the challenges in the business environment, 2022 was an excellent financial year for PUMA. The ongoing negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic led in particular to delays in the supply chain and, especially in the first half of the year, restricted product availability. In addition, there were negative effects in the form of lockdown measures, particularly in China, where retail stores had to be closed temporarily. Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted us to suspend our retail activities in these two countries in early March. Nevertheless, in such a difficult market environment, we were able to achieve the highest sales to date and, at the same time, the best result ever achieved in the history of PUMA.
Our "People First" approach is an important pillar of our strategy. We want to offer our employees an attractive working environment and diversity plays an important role in our corporate culture. PUMA has received several awards for this successful strategy in 2022, including the "Top Employer Award" in two regions and 16 countries as well as the German Diversity Award. We were able to further optimize our processes by expanding logistics centers in our key markets and opening new warehouses in Mexico, Dubai and Thailand. We also invested in improving our IT infrastructure, product development and ERP systems.
We were able to achieve currency-adjusted sales growth of 18.9% in the financial year 2022. We were also able to make improvements in terms of the operating result in 2022, achieving the best operating result and consolidated net earnings in PUMA's corporate history. In addition to the strong sales growth, this development was also attributable to the operating leverage. In contrast, higher sourcing prices due to raw materials and cost increases for incoming freight, an unfavorable regional and distribution channel mix and a promotional market environment with higher promotional activities had a negative effect on the development of the gross profit margin.
The operating result of € 640.6 million in the past financial year was within our forecast range of between € 600 million and € 700 million. Earnings per share increased compared with the previous year, rising from € 2.07 to € 2.36. This means that we achieved our profitability targets in the past financial year.
With regard to the consolidated balance sheet, we believe that PUMA continues to have a very solid capital base. As of the balance sheet date, the PUMA Group’s equity amounted to more than € 2.5 billion and the equity ratio was 37.5%.
The situation in the sourcing market continued to be tense in view of the COVID 19-related lockdown risks as well as due to the challenging freight market. Against this background, product availability was prioritized and products were purchased earlier, resulting in a negative impact on working capital and cash flow. Our cash and cash equivalents amounted to € 463.1 million as of the balance sheet date. In addition, the PUMA Group has unutilized credit lines totaling € 943.7 million at its disposal.
Consequently, the net assets, financial position and results of operations of the PUMA Group is overall very 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 24, 2023, a dividend of € 0.82 per share for the financial year 2022. This corresponds to a payout ratio of 34.7% in relation to the consolidated net earnings according to IFRS and is in line with our dividend policy.