In a surprise announcement, Kevin Plank, who founded Under Armour in 1996 while still in college, announced Tuesday he is stepping down as CEO. Plank will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Patrik Frisk, effective Jan. 1. Frisk will also join Under Armour's board, while Plank transitions to executive chairman and brand chief. Plank is an identifiable face of the brand, and isn't likely to fade into obscurity. With Plank holding the executive chairman and brand chief titles, he will likely remain very involved in the larger direction of the company, while leaving the daily operational details to Frisk.
Total Retail's Take: Under Armour is in the midst of a three-year transformation plan, with a focus on reviving its North American business, which has struggled to sustain growth. Frisk has been instrumental in leading Under Armour's efforts to optimize its supply chain and redefine its target demographic, and will now be called upon to help position Under Armour as more than an athletic performance wear brand, as competitors such as Nike, Adidas, and lululemon tap into the "athleisure" trend. He will be doing so with Plank's input, as well as the company's new North American president, Stephanie Pugliese, who was formerly CEO of Duluth Trading Company. Initial returns on Frisk's appointment as CEO have been positive: Under Armour shares jumped 2 percent in premarket trading Tuesday following the announcement.