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Linnartz Out as Under Armour CEO, Plank Regains Top Spot

The Stephanie Linnartz era at Under Armour has come to an abrupt end and Kevin Plank is back in the driver’s seat.

On Wednesday after the stock market closed, the Baltimore-based sports brand said that Linnartz would be stepping down as president, chief executive officer and a member of the board and will be succeeded by Under Armour’s founder, effective April 1.

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Under Armour’s shares were basically flat during trading hours, but fell 1.2 percent after hours on the news of Linnartz’ departure.

Mohamed A. El-Erian, an independent director since 2018 and lead director since 2020, will become the non-executive chair of the board. For the past several years, Plank has been executive chair of the board and will remain a director.

Linnartz will remain an adviser to the company through April 30.

“On behalf of the full team, I want to thank Stephanie for her contributions to Under Armour,” Plank said in a statement Wednesday. “We deeply appreciate her hard work and dedication. During her tenure, she strengthened the leadership team with executive hires in critical areas, including product, design, supply chain, consumer connectivity, and regional management. Her prior experience leading major brands was instrumental in focusing our consumer strategy, including the launch of the U.S. loyalty program, UA Rewards. Her efforts have helped set us on the right path, and we wish her success in her future endeavors.”

“I feel honored to have served as Under Armour’s president and CEO and worked with many incredible teammates who care deeply about the company’s purpose and mission,” said Linnartz. “I am proud of our progress against our strategic plan, including strengthening our team, evolving our products and marketing, and increasing our focus on profitability. We have a strong foundation in place for future growth and the company’s potential is limitless. I will continue to root for Under Armour’s success.”

The company gave no other insight on the abrupt change in leadership.

Plank founded Under Armour in 1996 and served as its CEO and chairman of the board until January 2020, when he was appointed executive chair and brand chief. At the time, the company was faltering both in terms of sales as well as with scandals ranging from strip-club visits by male executives to Securities and Exchange Commission investigations.

He was succeeded by Patrik Frisk, a one-time CEO of the Aldo Group, in 2020. But Frisk’s tenure was also short, lasting only two years. Linnartz, who had been president of Marriott International, was named to succeed Frisk at the end of 2022 and assumed the role in February 2023.

Since her appointment, Linnartz has essentially cleaned house of many of the company’s longtime employees — except Plank. Among the changes she made were naming Yassine Saidi chief product officer and Kara Trent president of the Americas in January. That followed the appointments of Jim Dausch as chief customer officer; Shawn Curran as chief supply chain officer; John Varvatos as head of design, and Amanda Miller as chief communications officer. The company is still searching for a chief marketing officer and senior vice president for footwear.

She also spearheaded a strategy she called Protect This House 3, which was designed to raise awareness of the Under Armour brand, deliver elevated designs and products to boost U.S. sales and maintain the company’s momentum overseas.

Kevin Plank

With Plank back at the helm, it will be interesting to see how the company evolves in the future.

Reflecting on his appointment, Plank said, “For nearly 30 years, Under Armour has focused on inspiring athletes with industry-leading, performance solutions they never knew they needed and once they’ve tried them, can’t imagine living without. As the company continues to navigate several post-pandemic consumer, industry, and brand-specific factors, we are working hard to reconstitute our strengths and make thoughtful, balanced business decisions to drive enduring success for athletes, customers, and shareholders. I am energized about the team we have put into place and look forward to seizing the opportunities ahead.”

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