Puma warns of tough times ahead but looks forward to start of WorldCup

SPORTSWEARmaker Puma expects the rest of the year to remain tough as consumers continue to drag their feet on spending, but the German firm is hoping for a boost from the soccer World Cup next year.<br /><br />The world&rsquo;s number three behind Nike and Adidas yesterday said the market environment would remain challenging in the fourth quarter as it posted third-quarter results that broadly met analysts expectations.<br /><br />&ldquo;We hope to see first signs of an improving business environment in the run up to the football World Cup in South Africa, where Puma through its strong ties with African Football has a home field advantage,&rdquo; chief executive Jochen Zeitz said.<br /><br />Puma&lsquo;s third-quarter earnings before interest and tax fell 21.6 per cent to &euro;98m (&pound;88m), in line with the average estimate in a Reuters poll of analysts of &euro;101m. <br />Group sales fell 6.3 per cent adjusted for currency fluctuations to &euro;673.4m.