March 24, 2022
We entered 2021 facing uncertainty about continued COVID-19 impacts on our business, including dynamic changes in purchase behavior and marketplace demand. As a result, we could have been conservative. Instead, we went on offense and Under Armour delivered a record year.
Our performance exemplified the power of our long-term strategic plan, our hyper-focus on execution, and the passion and discipline our teammates bring to work every day. Together, we expanded our brand’s awareness and consumer engagement, underscored our commitment to athletic performance by delivering some of our most innovative products yet, and deepened our relationships with our wholesale partners worldwide.
In 2021, revenue was up 27 percent to $5.7 billion, gross margin improved 210 basis points to 50.3 percent, our operating income reached $486 million, diluted earnings per share was $0.77, and we ended the year with $1.7 billion in cash.
Each of these achievements is a record for Under Armour. When viewed together, they demonstrate our playbook is working, and we’re on the right path. I am proud of the progress we’ve made, the resilience we’ve shown, and our potential to do even better in the future.
What unifies and drives us is our purpose: to empower those who strive for more. We intrinsically understand an athlete’s journey to compete. Our ethos – The Only Way is Through – personifies the grit necessary to break boundaries previously thought impossible. Our love for athletes guides us in everything we do. From an initial product drawing to the moment of purchase and how it feels while performing to driving deep, emotional connections to inspire achievement – we obsess over every detail of empowering those who strive for more.
To get there, we are thoughtful and strategic in investing to drive brand strength. In 2021, powerful storytelling translated to increased awareness, engagement, and conversion, with demand for Under Armour gaining momentum. We delivered higher-quality traffic to our owned retail stores and online business through strategically placed media and targeted e-mail activations that contributed to increased brand affinity and productivity. By staying disciplined, we are focused on our vision to inspire athletes with performance solutions they never knew they needed and now can’t imagine living without.
In our largest business, we saw a 33 percent increase in apparel revenue in 2021, driven by standout products such as UA RUSH™, UA-ISO-Chill®, Rival Fleece, and continued success in our women’s bra’s and bottom’s business with our Armour® Crossback, UA Infinity, and Meridian offerings empowering her ability to compete at the highest levels possible. In addition, we delivered a 35 percent increase in footwear revenue with innovations like the UA Flow Velociti Wind, which helps athletes achieve top speed in a lightweight and rubberless shoe, and franchises like UA HOVR® Sonic, Machina, and Infinite leading the way, along with the UA Charged Assert, Aurora and Pursuit, and the Curry and Project Rock collections. From training to competition and recovery, we have proven time and again that Under Armour products make you better.
Innovation is, of course, more than just products. We have also amplified our online and in-store experiences. In addition to improved capabilities for engaging with our consumers and product wayfinding in our eCommerce business, we continue to make strategic marketing and retail investments, including opening our 1,000th store in the Asia Pacific region. As consumers changed where and how they shopped, we consistently met them with better presentation and the personalized, unique shopping experiences they crave, furthering our work to become a best-in-class retailer.
As a backdrop, we have remained steadfast in our operational excellence and financial discipline principles. We are intentional in creating and pulling levers that drive our profitability. The evolution and enhancements within our operating model – sound inventory management, promotional discipline, better pricing – have made us a stronger and more resilient business. By streamlining our wholesale business and prioritizing opportunities for more holistic expression, we have driven fuller priced sell-through, expanded shelf space opportunities, and realized significantly better inventory turns. Our unwavering focus on efficiency and execution is working.
We expect to continue and build on this trajectory for years to come. And while current macro factors are impacting our business in the near term, we have no intentions of sitting idle. Innovation and consumer connectivity are not tactics at Under Armour – they are our way of life.
In 2022, we have already taken meaningful steps to continue living our purpose. As a decade-long effort, our recently announced Access to Sport initiative is grounded in our belief that everyone deserves the right to engage in sport. Accordingly, Under Armour will commit our resources and expertise to help break down barriers for the next generations of those who strive for more. From expanding our women’s UA Next™ efforts to launching programs for historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions, and more – we plan to create opportunities for millions of youth athletes by the year 2030 by providing access to pathways, people, and performance.
Later this year, we intend to publish our latest sustainability and social impact report highlighting our commitment to growing our business while caring for society and the planet. Providing greater transparency around our progress in sustainability, including environmental-based goals, community impact and diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives, is crucial to our progress as a purpose-driven brand.
In closing, as we emerge from this unpredictable time, we believe we can become a stronger brand and a more profitable business. And without question, we have. Nevertheless, we are cautious in the near term as we navigate a dynamic operating environment that includes supply chain constraints, rising wages, and inflationary input cost pressures. However, we remain confident in our long-term strategy.
In this respect, we are committed to staying agile and minimizing risk while executing our strategies with an unrelenting focus on the operational excellence that helped us get here. In addition, Under Armour’s brand strength, industry-leading athletic products, and premium experiences, along with the strongest financial position in our history, means we are well-positioned to achieve sustainable and profitable growth over the long term – fulfilling our promise to create an eternal brand.
My sincere thanks go out to our 17,500 global teammates – without which our continued evolution, gains, and accomplishments would not be possible. Their hard work and commitment to our purpose, discipline and operational excellence enabled the strongest year in Under Armour’s history. With this new year comes new opportunities to underscore our purpose, further our goals, and continue to drive towards our full potential. I am incredibly proud to lead this team and have never been more excited about our future.
Thank you for your trust in our brand and business.
President and Chief Executive Officer