Month: March 2019

Puma gets boost from World Cup, Arsenal deal

BERLIN (Reuters) – German sportswear firm Puma <PUMG.

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DE> said sales of World Cup soccer boots and national team shirts as well as new Arsenal jerseys beat its expectations as it reported second-quarter earnings that fell less than feared and reiterated its outlook.

Puma is trying to restore its reputation for sports performance gear after a foray into fashion has seen it slip further behind the world’s biggest sportswear firms Nike and Adidas . To that end, it ousted Nike as kit supplier to English soccer club Arsenal from next season.

Puma said on Tuesday earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) fell 60 percent to 12.6 million euros ($16.92 million), while net profit was down 76 percent to 4.2 million, above average analyst forecasts for 10.4 million and 3.6 million, respectively.

Puma shares, which had slid on Monday ahead of the results, were up 1.7 percent at 1010 GMT. French luxury group Kering , which has built up a 86 percent holding in Puma since first buying a stake in 2007, reports results on Wednesday.

As it refocuses on sport, Puma will launch its biggest marketing campaign to date on Aug. 7 set to run until the 2016 Olympics, showcasing athletes including sprinter Usain Bolt, soccer star Mario Balotelli and golfer Rickie Fowler.

Puma said second-quarter operating expenditure was broadly unchanged despite increased marketing spending around the World Cup, where it provided shirts to eight teams and kitted out its players with eye-catching boots: one blue and one pink.

STRONG SHIRT SALES

Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden said sales of the boots and national jerseys had exceeded Puma’s expectations, while initial sales of replica Arsenal shirts, which went on sale in July, had been good across the world, including in the United States and Asia, quickly selling out in many stores.

“Arsenal was a super deal for Puma, financially, strategically and for our image and you will see that in the figures from now on,” Gulden told a media conference call.

Group quarterly sales fell 5.8 percent to 652.2 million euros, but were up 0.6 percent when stripping out the impact of volatile currencies, at the low end of consensus forecasts.

Puma reiterated a 2014 forecast for flat currency-adjusted sales and for EBIT and net earnings to rise by 5 percent and 3 percent respectively.

Puma said apparel sales, which account for more than a third of its total, rose 6.2 percent to 241 million euros, helped by strong demand for replica jerseys of the Italian, Chilean and African teams at the World Cup.

Even though Puma’s dual-coloured World Cup boots have now largely sold out, footwear sales, which have suffered from a decline in the motorsports business, fell almost 16 percent to 277.6 million euros.

However, Gulden, the former managing director of European footwear chain Deichmann, said feedback from retailers had been positive for Puma’s spring/summer 2015 collection – the first designed since he took over as CEO a year ago.

“The design direction that we have started has been confirmed… we feel more comfortable,” he said.

Gulden said Puma had no immediate plans to buy into German first-division soccer club Borussia Dortmund , but noted as the shares were publicly listed it could buy them at any time and would have to communicate if it took a big stake.

Puma said it had appointed Lars Radoor Soerensen, who previously worked at fashion firms Bestseller and Esprit as well as Adidas and Lego, as new chief operating officer, replacing Andy Koehler, who only joined Puma a year ago along with Gulden but is stepping down for personal reasons.

($1 = 0.7444 Euros)

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter and Louise Heavens)

Critics claim fading stars unlikely to shine on in India

Pires became the latest big overseas name to sign up for the tournament on Monday when the former France international joined ex-Arsenal team mate Freddie Ljungberg in the eight-team Indian Super League (ISL) scheduled from Oct.

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12 to Dec. 20.

While the 40-year-old Pires has yet to be confirmed on the roster of a specific team, Spanish World Cup-winner Capdevila agreed to join North East United on July 16.

Capdevila’s compatriot Luis Garcia will represent the Kolkata franchise, co-owned by Atletico Madrid, while the former Liverpool and England goalkeeper David James has also committed to playing in the league.

“I am very happy to be part of the new league when passion for football in India is on the rise,” ISL’s official Tweeter feed (@IndSuperLeague) quoted Pires as saying.

“It will be great to play in front of enthusiastic Indian fans as well as share my knowledge with my team mates,” the former Arsenal midfielder added.

However, not everyone is convinced that the marquee players, all well past their prime, can impress upon either the fans or local players.

“It’s a good marketing strategy but in the end, it all boils down to the standard of football,” former India player Satyajit Chatterjee told Reuters.

“Young fans want good football and they’ve grown up watching the English Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. They won’t settle for anything less.

“I don’t think over-the-hill players can dish out that kind of football,” said Chatterjee, considered one of India’s best attacking midfielders.

NOVELTY FACTOR

“The first season will have a novelty factor but how do you sustain the interests of fans who have sampled top class soccer? They are likely to feel disappointed.

“I still believe the organisers should have roped in current players from Europe or Latin America, even if it’s not a (Lionel) Messi.

“It’s a new effort and I welcome it. But I’m not sure having retired footballers as your marquee player is a great idea,” said Chatterjee, who played 15 consecutive years at Mohun Bagan until 2000 and briefly coached the club as well.

Soccer writer Jaydeep Basu felt ISL, modelled on the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, was a natural destination for the ageing players.

“They are done with top class soccer and the space is shrinking for them. Good money and the comparatively brief duration of the tournament make ISL a natural choice for them,” Basu said.

“We should have reasonable expectations from them. Football is not a place for a one-man revolution. They can’t lift the standard of the game here, which depends on so many other factors.”

Cricket is firmly established as India’s number one sport while the country of 1.2 billion languishes 151st in the latest FIFA world rankings.

“Even the ISL seems beset with teething problems. They already have had three postponements and beyond their marketing drive, they are yet to establish a concrete structure with technical personnel,” Basu lamented.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

Can computers stop suicides?

 

Watch SBS Insight on SBS ONE Tuesday at 8.

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30pm (repeat Wednesday 1pm)Join the conversation on Twitter using #insightsbsHow seeking help turned NRL player’s life around

A painful divorce and work-related stress saw Dr Geoff Toogood fall into severe depression last year.

The 54-year-old cardiologist from Melbourne said he was overwhelmed by everything that was going on in his life.

“I could not take the mental pain anymore and the suffering,” he said.

“There was relationship breakdown, we were in the Family Court, I was having issues with my kids, I had serious work issues that sort of hit the front page of papers; not related to me but related around me. So I was under a lot of financial, economic and personal pressures.”

Toogood told Insight he never acted on his thoughts about ending his life and had put in place preventative plans to stop him from making a snap decision. He joined Facebook to keep in contact with people and had helplines stuck on his fridge.

“Sometimes either someone needs to help you, or you have to go out and get the help. Because it’s a preventable death,” Toogood said. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that in 2012, three-quarters or 1901 of the deaths from intentional self-harm were men.

“Lots of men get lost in those critical transitions in life.”

Professor Ian Hickie, is the former CEO of Beyond Blue and head of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney. He says initiatives targeting the youth are working but there is still a long way to go with the other age groups, particularly the middle-aged and elderly.

“So we’re doing a better job now with younger people. But we still are really, really struggling, really between 25 and 40, with men who have got mental health problems or substance-abuse problems or other difficulties actually that being at a stage of life where people assume they’re coping, that they’re okay, but actually they are quite disconnected.” 

“Lots of men get lost in those critical transitions in life. The transition out of family into school, from school to employment, employment to relationships, and those critical early periods of their life where they’re not so confident about who they are and staying connected.”

“And I think that remains then the really big challenge. We’ve got greater awareness about mental health problems, greater access to services but how do we stay connected so that when you’re going through one of those tough times, you’re still alive at the end of it?”

Clinical psychiatrist Richard Harvey, from Deakin University in Victoria, told Insight it’s always a challenge for doctors to assess whether someone is suicidal. He said doctors are influenced by their engagement with the patient and dependent on what the patient will disclose, which unfortunately means they don’t always get it right.

He’s teamed up with computer scientist Professor Svetha Venkatesh, and together they’ve devised a way to look at the hospital data in more useful ways, studying inpatient admissions and emergency department visits and trying to find patterns.

“A clinician seeing someone in the [hospital] emergency department who’s presenting in a suicidal state will ask a lot of questions. They want to collect lots of information. But it’s filtering that and determining what’s really important and particularly picking up when there has been a serious attempt at suicide in the past,” Harvey said.

He told Insight this computer system is two-thirds better in predicting the likelihood of a serious event.

Ultimately, Harvey says their work is not about predicting suicide, but about assisting those who are immediately at risk so that the limited resources can be allocated more efficiently and in a more targeted way.

“It might take the clinician several hours to go through thousands of pages of medical records and summarise it all. So what the system does it very quickly picks out and presents visually a map of previous presentations and what’s happened to this person.”

While it’s still in a trial phase at hospitals in Melbourne, it’s an initiative welcomed by Geoff Toogood.

“I think any idea that can identify someone at high risk is good. Because sometimes it’s a gut feeling, it’s a doctor’s gut feeling. Sometimes you can’t identify it. Sometimes the risk is over a period of time. So if you can identify someone at risk, it’s very helpful because the impact of suicide on the family and friends in the workplace that these people are in is just a lot.”

 

This week, a policeman, a cardiologist and a footy star join a room of men to discuss why male suicide rates are so high – and how some of them made it back from the brink.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Broad double rocks India in third Test

Stuart Broad took two wickets as England tightened their grip on the third Test against India at Southampton on Tuesday.

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At lunch on the third day, India were 3-108 in reply to England’s imposing 7-569 declared, a deficit of 461 runs after Broad had dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara (24) and Murali Vijay (35).

Virat Kohli was 18 not out and Ajinkya Rahane 11 not out, with India needing a further 262 runs to avoid the follow-on.

Following a minute’s silence on Tuesday to commemorate cricketers who were killed during the First World War, a hundred years on from the start of that conflict, India resumed on 1-25.

Opener Vijay, averaging 90 in the series, was 11 not out and Pujara four not out.

England, 1-0 down in the series, and without a victory in their previous 10 Tests, knew they had to ‘win’ Tuesday’s play if they were to have a realistic chance of drawing level in this match.

After the batsmen made a solid start against England, with bowlers appreciably quicker than those playing for India in the absence of the injured Ishant Sharma, the seven-wicket hero of the tourists’ 95-run win in the second Test at Lord’s, Broad made the breakthrough.

Pujara, trying to sway out of the way of a well-directed short ball, didn’t withdraw his bat and gloves in time and gave Buttler a simple catch for his first Test dismissal.

Kohli, whose best score in four previous innings this series was only 25, drove Chris Jordan through the covers for four.

But Broad struck again when Vijay, trying to withdraw his bat, deflected the ball onto his stumps and was bowled.

Broad had taken two wickets for 10 runs in 22 balls and India, on a sunny day ideal for batting, were 3-88.

England thought they had Rahane, who made a superb hundred at Lord’s, caught by Buttler for eight off occasional off-spinner Moeen Ali.

It was an excellent legside take by Buttler and the Hot Spot replay confirmed a thin touch on the glove.

However, Australia umpire Rod Tucker ruled not out and with India objections meaning the Decision Review System is not being used this series, Rahane survived.

In a blow for England, Ian Bell was sent for an X-ray after suffering a thumb injury while fielding during the first session on Tuesday.

Early in the day’s play, India’s Murali Vijay edged James Anderson just short of Bell at second slip, with the ball hitting the fielder’s left thumb.

Bell immediately shook his hand in pain and, after treatment by the England physiotherapist, walked off the field.

Monday saw Bell end a run of 19 Test innings without a hundred by top-scoring with 167 in England’s first innings 569 for seven declared.

Talks aim to get experts to MH17 site

The head of the international monitoring group in Ukraine is hopeful unarmed Australian and Dutch police will be able to access the MH17 crash site and start retrieving bodies “within one or two days”.

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OSCE chief monitor Ertugrul Apakan met with top Ukrainian officials in Kiev on Tuesday after the international policing mission was unable to reach the site for a third day running due to heavy shelling in the Donetsk region.

Mr Apakan said Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had now “instructed all institutions to be helpful to the OSCE” special monitoring mission (SMM).

“He’s asking us to reach the crash site as soon as possible in order to remove the remnants of the bodies and carry out an investigation by the international taskforce,” the chief monitor told reporters in Kiev.

“There’s progress and we expect that the SMM will move to the crash site, with the international taskforce, within a short span of time, tomorrow or the other (next) day.

“We are working, if possible, within one or two days to be there.”

Mr Apakan said the OSCE was coordinating with all the parties on the ground including pro-Russia militants who have conceded they are losing territory to Ukrainian forces.

Acting Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, speaking alongside the OSCE chief monitor, said Ukraine was making continuous efforts to secure entry to the crash site “but we continuously encounter provocations”.

Mr Groysman said the president was making “every effort humanly possible to stop the provocations”.

“We have designed a clear-cut plan that will provide for our final entry,” the acting PM told reporters via a translator.

“We are in close co-operation with the Netherlands and our colleagues from Australia and other international partners.”

Mr Groysman is hopeful of some good news “in the forthcoming hours or maybe a day”.

He vowed there’d be no military action within a 20km exclusion zone and no shots would be fired “in the direction of the area where we will have some movements of the taskforce”.

The acting PM added: “We know that terrorists are still in control of the territory.”

Mr Groysman expects parliament on Thursday to ratify deals between Australia and the Netherlands and Ukraine regarding the humanitarian policing mission.

“This will enable the exercise of actions that will lead to a quicker investigation of what has happened,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

The deployment agreements would allow Australia and the Netherlands to send in armed police or soldiers if required.