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Puma sees Rihanna boosting women's sales

German sportswear company Puma said it was optimistic for the development of its women's business under new creative director Rihanna although group sales growth slowed in the third quarter and net profit fell due to the strong dollar.

Puma said net profit fell 31 percent to 20 million euros ($22 million) on sales up a currency-adjusted 3.1 percent to 914 million, down from 7.6 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast net profit of 23.1 million and sales of 918 million euros.

Puma

Puma said the launch of the first shoe by Rihanna, named the "Creeper", had sold out within hours or days at most retailers and a solid order book made it optimistic for other products too, allowing it to confirm its guidance for the full-year.

"We have generally seen a very positive development in our women's business and we will put even more focus on the female consumer going forward," Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden said.

Global sales of sportswear for women are growing faster than sales to men asthe "athleisure" fashion trend booms.

That helped drive the rise of yogawear chain Lululemon Athletica and power strong demand for the Adidas' Originals fashion brand.

Nike, the world's biggest sportswear firm, said last month it expects to almost double sales to women by 2020, growing the business to $11 billion to account for 22 percent of sales from almost 19 percent now.

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