- Under Armour’s CEO search has ended, with the retailer on Wednesday naming Stephanie Linnartz as its incoming chief, effective Feb. 27, 2023.
- Linnartz joins from Marriott International, where she is currently president, according to a company press release. She has spent 25 years at the hotel company and is also currently a member of The Home Depot’s board of directors. As Under Armour CEO, Linnartz will receive a base salary of $1.3 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Colin Browne, who has served as interim CEO since Patrik Frisk stepped down in June, will resume his position as chief operating officer.
Under Armour is looking to the hotel industry for its next leader. Linnartz has spent nearly 26 years at Marriott and also has experience at Hilton.
While not direct retail experience, Linnartz’s tenure in the hotel industry has given her time in strategy, finance, sales, marketing and technology, all of which could be beneficial to Under Armour, Telsey Advisory Group analysts said in emailed comments.
“While Ms. Linnartz does not have prior public company CEO experience, she has a strong track record of leadership at one of the top hotel companies in the world,” the analysts, led by Cristina Fernández, said. “A permanent CEO, especially one with the ability to manage brand experiences, should help regain investor confidence in the strategy and business model.”
The analysts noted that her appointment brings experience in brand building — something Under Armour is in need of — and that she could be an asset to Under Armour’s digital sales and customer loyalty. Linnartz also developed several partnerships with major sports organizations at Marriott, including the NFL and the NCAA.
In a statement on the appointment, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank praised Linnartz as a “proven growth leader with a distinguished track record” in a variety of areas.
“Responsible for leading Marriott’s multi-billion dollar digital transformation, driving scale through continuous brand innovation across the portfolio, developing premier sports league and team partnerships, while architecting the extraordinary growth of its loyalty program – the board is confident that Stephanie – along with our leadership team and all of our key stakeholders – will accelerate our ability to realize the substantial opportunities for Under Armour as both an operating company and aspirational brand,” Plank said.
Plank also applauded Browne for his time leading the company, saying he did a “terrific job” and helped the company triple its total addressable market, among other accomplishments. Under Armour has been lagging behind its activewear rivals: The retailer in November reported just 1.8% revenue growth and North American revenue was down more than 2%. The brand in October named new leadership for its North America region.
“Under the leadership of Ms. Linnartz, we expect Under Armour to continue to execute against the strategic plan previously laid out and don’t see a big near-term change in strategy,” Telsey analysts said. “Under Armour has recognized the more challenging macro environment, while also highlighting opportunities to strengthen the brand by focusing on the 16-20 years old team sports athlete, prioritizing better and best price points, expanding into lifestyle products that drive more use occasions for the brand, and rolling out a loyalty program in NA in 2023. These initiatives are at an early stage, but we expect a focus in FY24 under new CEO Stephanie Linnartz.”