Puma's fortunes have suffered of late, with profits dropping by 26% to 32.8m euros during the final three months of 2006 - much of that due to the cost of expansion, as it tries in vain to keep pace with the sports biz's two big hitters, Nike and Adidas. In the football world, for example, the two have snapped up sponsorship of all the top players, from David Beckham to Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho, as well as supplying kit to teams such as Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea. Puma, meanwhile, has had to pad out its stable of genuine stars with players like the bundle of limbs that is Peter Crouch, and perennial under-achievers like Tottenham Hotspur.
That Puma should be fighting it out with Adidas is a fitting development in one of the corporate world's fruitier histories. The two companies were born of the same German family firm, run by the Dassler family, which split following a spat that grew during World War II. This rift included Rudi Dassler, who went onto found Puma, suspecting his brother Adi of dobbing him into the Allied forces, apparently falsely, as being a member of the Waffen SS. As the founder of Adidas, Adi's legacy has remained a step ahead of his brother's ever since.
That said, Puma did land the coup of sponsoring the Italian football team, which went on to triumph at the World Cup last year. Which suggests perhaps that the potential Gucci-Puma crossover will work the other way too: the team of diving whingers would probably appreciate a decent line in Italian handbags.