He replaces former MD Gareth Kemp who has also been running the ship as chief executive officer of Ares Holdings, the appointed distributor for Under Armour, Birkenstock, Crocs and 2xU in Southern Africa since July 2021.
Cooke’s career spans over 20 years with broad global experience in the retail industry, having contributed to the growth of sportswear brand Adidas. Part of his experience includes working in the Levant and North Africa region, managing a number of different subsidiaries and overseeing complex export business actively trading in more than 20 different countries.
According to Kemp, “Cooke has significant experience within the industry, having been national sales director and subsequently territory lead for one of the leading sports apparel and footwear brands. Cooke brings vision, structure and great determination to our team and we look forward to his leadership driving the strength and growth of Under Armour into the future.”
Cooke commented, “I admire the manner in which Gareth and the team have grown the brand locally in the past five years. I’m certainly very privileged to take the baton and to take us forward. Fortunately, I’m coming in at a good time; the brand is at an amazing place at the moment and the industry is doing very well. I’m delighted to say we have very ambitious and exciting plans for the next five years and we are working as a team to realise them.”
The appointment announcement was made at Under Armour’s Mental Strength Symposium event, called Through 2021 held in Cape Town on Thursday, 3 February. In attendance were some of the country’s biggest pro-athletes including gold medalists Tatjana Schoenmaker and Ntando Mahlangu, as well as Siviwe Soyizwapi, Phepsi Buthelezi, Rivaldo Coetzee and Kevin Lerena.