Cobra-Puma marriage becomes official

The marriage of Cobra and Puma became official when Acushnet’s sale of Cobra closed April 16. Now the work to make the deal a success begins. The newly-formed Cobra-Puma Golf revealed some of its plan to build itself into a “sport-lifestyle” leader.

Company officials announced that the two brands will continue to be developed separately, while maximizing resources and collaborating on many areas, including operations, research, design and marketing.

Bob Philion – who launched Puma Golf in 2006 – will lead, Cobra-Puma Golf as president, overseeing and managing all aspects of the company’s global presence, including the expansion and growth of the business.

Brian Zender, formerly GM of Cobra Golf, was named senior vice president and general manager of Cobra-Puma Golf. He will continue overseeing all Cobra Golf activities and be heavily involved in the sales efforts of both brands. Zender indicated the brand’s staff is relishing the opportunity to be the lead – and only – equipment entity at Puma.

“We can look at categories and opportunities in our club business and accessories business without concern for the mindshare of other brands in the portfolio,” Zender said. “This gives us an opportunity to break out in terms of our own brand opportunities.”

Cobra-Puma Golf will operate in Carlsbad, Calif., where Cobra Golf has been based since its founding in 1973. The same group of engineers who designed Cobra Golf’s current offerings will remain in Carlsbad, while Puma Golf will maintain its apparel and footwear design team in Boston. Company officials believe opportunities for collaboration abound.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for both brands as it relates to merchandising, marketing and our tour representation,” Zender said. “A lot of those things will be vetted out over time.”

Also in the works is the expansion of the Cobra-Puma sales force to sell its full portfolio of products. Beginning in Sept., the combined sales force will sell Cobra-Puma Golf products for the spring 2011 season.

Acushnet Co., parent of Titleist and FootJoy, announced March 10 an agreement to sell the Cobra Golf brand – to rising industry player Puma AG. Acushnet will continue to provide transition services to Puma on behalf of Cobra – including production, distribution, field sales and customer service – for an agreed-upon period of time.

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