5 minutes

CEO Stephanie Linnartz spoke about her personnel leading the charge for her brand in product design, supply chain management, merchandising, and technology.

As Stephanie Linnartz enters the final months of her first year as president and CEO at Under Armour Inc., she is focused on the brand’s foundation. For Linnartz, that means emphasizing retail basics such as product design, supply chain management, merchandising and technology.

Linnartz joined Under Armour in February 2023 and is the company’s first female CEO. In a one-on-one interview with Digital Commerce 360 at Under Armour’s Michigan Avenue store in Chicago, she explained where she wants to take the 27-year-old sportswear company — and the personnel leading the way.

Under Armour is No. 97 in the Top 1000. The Digital Commerce 360 database ranks North America’s leading online retailers by their web sales.

Four priorities for Under Armour personnel

1. Product design

As is typical of the apparel industry, sales success starts with product design.

“We sell footwear, accessories and apparel,” Linnartz told Digital Commerce 360. “I think what we’re doing in the short term, for men and for women, is trying to lean more into things that are sports style in terms of expanding the aperture for where Under Armour can appeal to consumers.”


And designing new products takes time. Linnartz said she thinks the lead time and “product engine” can be anywhere from 15 to 18 months.

In September, Under Armour hired fashion industry veteran John Varvatos as its chief design officer. Varvatos previously designed for brands including, among others: Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Converse. He created the boxer brief at Calvin Klein and the laceless sneaker for Converse. Converse falls under parent company Nike Inc., No. 9 in the Top 1000. Ralph Lauren Corp. ranks No. 78 in the Top 1000. Calvin Klein falls under parent company PVH Corp., which ranks No. 129.

“Think about the fact he needs to design things, so we need to source them, manufacture, ship them,” Linnartz said. “There’s that lead time to have a lot more new product that’s more sports sales.”

In the interim, she said, Under Armour is marketing differently, especially to women, a demographic the brand wants to appeal to increasingly. Currently, more than 75% of Under Armour sales are to men, Linnartz shared.


2. Supply chain management

And as the brand seeks to develop new products, it needs to also focus on sourcing materials for them.

“You have to get the right product at the right place at the right time at the right price,” Linnartz told Digital Commerce 360. “That’s all end-to-end planning and supply chain and logistics. We are pretty good there, but we could always get better, so we’re going to continue to build out our supply chain capabilities.”

Under Armour recently hired Shawn Curran, adding a chief supply chain officer to its C-suite. Curran spent more than 30 years at Gap Inc. (No. 20 in the Top 1000), where he most recently served as Old Navy’s chief operating officer. He had also served as head of global supply chain across all seven Gap Inc. brands.

“He’s a supply chain expert,” Linnartz said. “He’s actually an expert across all of retail … but he’s also a supply chain expert, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and logistics.”


3. Merchandising

Linnartz said ecommerce represents less than 20% of Under Armour’s global revenue, but about 40% of the brand’s direct-to-consumer business.

“I have a real vision for where I want to take the website and app, and we have a lot of work to do,” Linnartz said. “We have a lot of work to do to improve not only the functionality but how we sell our merchandise on the site, too.”

She told Digital Commerce 360 that Under Armour will “double down” on its merchandising efforts “over the next couple years.” That’s one of the main reasons Under Armour hired James Dausch, she said. He joined the brand in July as chief consumer officer.

Dausch previously worked with Linnartz at Marriott International, where he was most recently the chief product officer. Linnartz was president at Marriott International prior to joining Under Armour, and she said Dausch “has the capabilities both on the functionality and on the tech sides.”


“You could have the world’s most functional website, but if what you have on it isn’t beautiful and popular and selling well, and you’re not merchandising it well, it doesn’t matter,” Linnartz told Digital Commerce 360.

4. Technology

“Every company’s a tech company,” Linnartz said. By that, she said, she means that technology should not be seen as separate from the rest of a brand’s operation. She said a chief technology officer “should report directly to the CEO so that tech has a seat at the senior table.”

Among the personnel at the table is Danny Miles, Under Armour’s chief technology officer, who started with the brand in May 2021. Linnartz said she “elevated him” to report directly to her.

“Some of the things we’re doing around automation and robotics in the supply chain are quite interesting from a technology standpoint,” Linnartz said.


She added that Under Armour is rolling out a point-of-sale system across the country that allows consumers to sign up for UA Rewards, the brand’s loyalty program. In the retailer’s 2024 fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 30, 2023, Under Armour reported that UA Rewards had surpassed 1 million members in its first few months.

Editors note: Be sure to read the first part of our interview with Under Armour CEO Stephanie Linnartz, where she explains how she wants to grow Under Armour’s ecommerce business.

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