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Puma Says Rihanna Will Help Company Catch Adidas

The chief of Puma admitted on Friday that arch rival Adidas was on a roll due to the popularity of its retro sneakers, but he believed a deal with singer Rihanna would help the smaller German sportswear firm get back in the game.

The two brands have a fierce rivalry that dates back to their foundation by two brothers who fell out in the late 1940s in the small southern German town of Herzogenaurach.

Both have launched big marketing drives since 2014 after struggling against fierce competition from Nike, but Adidas has returned to form more quickly, helped by the popularity of relaunched Superstar and Stan Smith shoes.

"Superstar and Stan Smith shoes are everywhere you go. They are a huge growth vehicle for them," Bjorn Gulden, who took over as Puma chief executive in 2013 and worked at Adidas earlier in his career, told a conference call for reporters.

Read More: Rihanna Partnership Credited With Boosting Puma Sales

Compared to the much bigger Nike and Adidas, Gulden said Puma was still struggling to get space at retailers, although its popular retro suede sneakers and new women's products were prompting distributors to call to ask to stock its range again.

Gulden made the comments after Puma reported quarterly net profit rose 4 percent to $29.4 million, while sales rose a currency-adjusted 7.3 percent to 852 million euros, slightly shy of average analyst forecasts.

The firm confirmed it expects sales to grow by a high single-digit percentage this year, while it sees its gross profit margin remaining flat from last year's 45.5 percent, with operating earnings between 115 million and 125 million euros.