A degree in Latin, Greek and philosophy may not be the most obvious study option to become a leading executive in the sports industry, yet that is precisely the qualification obtained at Oxford by Martyn Bowen, who has become general manager for Puma in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He succeeds Volfango Bondi, who has left Puma after about six years at the company and two in the European general manager's seat.

The 51-year-old Brit is a former track & field athlete who spent the last two decades at Puma in various roles, as export manager for Eastern Europe, area general manager for Eastern Europe and general manager for Austria. In recent years he has been Puma's regional manager for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India (EEMEA), based in Austria. This group of countries remains under Bowen's responsibility, and the new appointment adds the rest of Europe.

The move is partly meant to improve the efficiency of Puma's operations in Europe, where the brand's sales were nearly flat last year. The company restructured them more than two years ago, bundling 23 European markets into seven regional units. Bowen is currently commuting between Austria and Germany but he is to be permanently based at Puma's head office in Herzogenaurach, reporting directly to the chief executive, Bjørn Gulden.

Under Bowen's supervision, Puma has been relatively prosperous in several east European countries as well as in India. Untypical in several ways, the British manager once quipped that this country had been added to his responsibilities due to his affinity with cricket. It has turned into one of the countries where Puma has performed most convincingly in the last years. Bowen was brought up in Tanzania, Kenya and England.

The appointment puts the supervision of Puma's EMEA business in the hands of an executive who has many years of experience with the brand and the company in the region. It also removes one layer of supervision for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa – all helping to make Puma faster, as dictated by thre Wild Cat's new mantra.