Under Armour Founder Returns as CEO in Surprise Shakeup: Can Plank Resuscitate the Struggling Brand?

In a surprise move announced on Wednesday, sportswear giant Under Armour revealed that founder Kevin Plank will be returning to the helm as CEO, effective April 1st. Plank, who previously served as CEO from the company’s founding in 1996 until 2019, will succeed Stephanie Linnartz. Linnartz, who has been CEO for just over a year, will step down from the board entirely.

Plank’s return comes at a time when Under Armour is facing challenges in the athletic apparel market. The company’s share price rose 6% in after-hours trading following the news.

“On behalf of the full team, I want to thank Stephanie for her contributions to Under Armour,” Plank said in a press release. Linnartz will remain as an advisor to the company until the end of April.

Plank’s return also sees a shift in the boardroom. Mohamed El-Erian, an independent director since 2018 and current lead director, will assume the role of non-executive chair. Plank will relinquish his position as executive chair but will remain a director. The specific reasons behind the leadership changes haven’t been disclosed by Under Armour.

Analysts believe Plank’s return signifies a strategic decision to recapture the brand’s identity and competitive edge. During Plank’s prior tenure as CEO, Under Armour was known for its innovative performance apparel and aggressive marketing campaigns. However, the company has faced criticism in recent years for lagging innovation and failing to connect with younger demographics.

Plank’s return to the CEO position is a gamble for Under Armour. While his past success inspires hope, he will face the challenge of reigniting brand momentum and navigating an ever-evolving athletic wear landscape. Only time will tell if Plank can recapture the magic that fueled Under Armour’s early rise and restore the brand to its former glory.

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