Under Armor selects new CEO: Marriott executive Stephanie Linnartz

Marriott President Stephanie Linnartz becomes CEO of Under Armour

under armor said on Wednesday that it has discontinued Marriott International President Stephanie Linnartz will become the next CEO, capping a seven-month search for a new boss who the company hopes will help grow its digital business.

Linnartz, who has been with Marriott since 1997, was one of 60 candidates considered for the role. While athletic apparel is a huge leap from hospitality, it was chosen for its digital prowess and success in transforming the hotel chain’s online presence, Kevin Plank, founder and executive chairman of Under Armour, told CNBC.

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“She’s really trainable,” Plank said. “She has this intellectual curiosity and she comes in with the perspective of a professional.” After a transition period of five to six years, the company is orienting itself towards its priorities “digitization, product and brand”.

Linnartz, who joined Marriott in 1997 as a financial analyst, will take up her new role on February 2. 27

Colin Browne has served as interim CEO since June after former Under Armor top executive Patrik Frisk unexpectedly resigned in May. Browne will resume his position as chief operating officer, the company said in a press release.

Plank said the company isn’t planning a major change in direction and that he “really” likes the current strategy, but he acknowledged the brand “isn’t growing as much as we’d like.”

Under Armor has sought to expand its e-commerce operations, increase profits, and compete with rival brands Nike Spirit Lululemon as it struggles with low margins, costly litigation, and an abbreviated fiscal year outlook.

The company leverages Linnartz’s experience leading Marriott’s multibillion-dollar digital transformation to accelerate Under Armour’s online initiatives.

Under Armour’s new CEO, Stephanie Linnartz

Courtesy: Under Armour

During her time at Marriott, Linnartz grew the Bonvoy loyalty program to 173 million members and immersed herself in the sports world as she forged multi-year partnerships with the NFL, the NCAA and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.

In a press release Wednesday, Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano praised Linnartz as an “incredible leader.” She will leave the company in February. 24, three days before her start at Under Armour.

“Building a career at Marriott has been one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life,” Linnartz said in the press release.

She is also a member of Home Depot’s board of directors. She will be able to bring that retail background and insight to the position, Plank said.

Plank said he will remain brand boss and CEO and continue to be “importantly involved in the business.”

“It will be a partnership. You and I will be partners. We’re not hiding from it,” Plank said.

Under Armor began in 1996 with humble roots. Plank, a former football player, prototyped the brand’s signature moisture-wicking shirt while attending the University of Maryland and later perfected his designs in his grandmother’s Georgetown basement.

By 2005, he took the Baltimore-based company public and its value doubled on the first day of trading.

Five years later, Under Armor had quadrupled its sales to surpass $1 billion.

Most recently, the company reported revenue of $1.57 billion for the fiscal second quarter, up 2% year over year, along with net income of $87 million.

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