Under Armour

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Under Armour, Inc. : Company History
In 1996, as a football player at the University of Maryland, Kevin Plank grew tired of the cotton t-shirts he was provided becoming soaked with sweat and rain, impeding his ability to move fluidly as a special-teams player for the Terrapin football team. Knowing that cycling outfits and football under shorts were made with a "moisture-wicking synthetic fabric", Plank believed it possible to make a t-shirt out of such material. He observed the content label of his moisture-wicking undershorts and bought the same material from a fabric store, subsequently paying a tailor $460 to sew seven shirts using the fabric. Plank's and six other teammates wore the shirts in practice and all agreed that Plank was on to something very positive. In response, he went to New York's garment district and had hundreds more samples made, calling his invention "Under Armour" and subsequently founding the company as it is known today through the initial backing of angel investors (Business Week.com, Carey, John, 25 May 2006).

Since achieving $17,000 in recorded sales with one employee (Plank) and one t-shirt in 1996, the company has grown to more than $430 million in net revenues in its fiscal year 2006. In 2000, the company's products were sold worldwide in approximately 500 retail stores, growing to 12,000 retail stores by 2006, primarily in the US, Canada, Japan, UK, France, and Germany. The company began selling in Japan in 1999, and in the United Kingdom in 2005. The company also acquired capital within the United States, by issuing stock through an initial public offering (IPO) in 2005 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which allowed the company to obtain approximately $123M in capital (Under Armour 2006 and 2005 Annual Report). In 2007, the company opened its first stand-alone store in Annapolis, MD and will continue opening such stores in 2008 to establishing itself as a pure retailer and manufacturer. Under Armour also established its Girls' line of apparel and now serves all retail groups – Men's, Women's, Boy's, and Girl's. Through all its growth, Under Armour still maintains its original brand mission: "To deliver our universal guarantee of performance with superior product and unparalleled service" (Under Armour 2006 and 2007Annual Report).

Under Armour, Inc. : Current Issues/News
Chicagotribune.com – Inside Retailing: "Under Armour to test store strength in Aurora", 23 Feb 2008 Under Armour, Inc. has plans to open its second stand-alone retail store in Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, IL in May 2008. The first stand-alone store at ,4500 square feet was opened at the Westfield Mall in Annapolis, MD during 2007. According to Christopher Hufnagel, VP of Retail for the Company, the Aurora store will be larger at 6,000 square feet in order to experiment with different size prototypes. According to Kevin Plank, UA's CEO, the company plans to spend between $5M and $7M this year to open a total of three to four stores. Plank that opening its own stores for the first-time instead of relying on distribution at retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods will allow for broader brand recognition and further the company's growth plans. Baltimore Business Journal: "Under Armour Super Bowl Ad Stays true to Brand Identity", 4 Feb 2008

Under Armour bought its first Super Bowl ad in 2008, spending more than $5M on a 60-second spot to launch their latest marketing campaign called "The New Prototype" and its first ever cross-training shoe which will create a new competition category between UA and its biggest competitors such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas. The ad received mixed reviews from voters in an online poll, perhaps because the ad was not "funny" or "quirky" as Super Bowl ads often are. Other experts said that product launch of the shoes was more confusing than the message of Under Armour's brand personality, which has stayed consistent throughout its various campaign and resonated well in this campaign...
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