Wolverine Worldwide Divests Hush Puppies IP in Asia – Sourcing Journal

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Wolverine Worldwide is continuing to transform its brand portfolio with two more divestitures.

The Rockford, Mich.-based footwear company said late last week that it has sold the intellectual property of its Hush Puppies brand in China, Hong Kong, and Macau. What’s more, the company also disclosed that it has completed the sale of its U.S. Wolverine Leathers business.

In a new deal with its current sublicensee, Beijing Jiaman Dress Co., Ltd., Wolverine has sold the Hush Puppies trademarks, patents, copyrights and domains in China, Hong Kong and Macau. In a deal valued at $58.8 million, the two parties have entered into a license and cooperation agreement providing for mutual engagement and brand stewardship of the Hush Puppies brand in the region.

Wolverine said it will continue to own and operate the Hush Puppies brand throughout the rest of the world.

Chris Hufnagel, the recently promoted president and CEO of Wolverine Worldwide, said in a statement that this sale reflects the company’s “strategic approach” in China, Hong Kong and Macau to focus on Wolverine’s biggest brands.

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“Hush Puppies remains an important brand in our portfolio, and we are committed to growing it through strong global licensing partnerships and expanding our connections with local consumers,” Hufnagel said. “We look forward to partnering with Beijing Jiaman Dress and to ensuring the global success of Hush Puppies.”

Separately, the company also announced late on Thursday that it has completed the sale of its U.S. Wolverine Leathers business to its long-time customer, New Balance, for approximately $6 million in total proceeds. As part of the deal, the company assigned Wolverine’s U.S. tannery contracts to New Balance and continues to explore alternatives for the non-U.S. Wolverine Leathers business.

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Mike Stornant, EVP and CFO of Wolverine Worldwide, added in a statement that these transactions are the latest actions in the company’s ongoing effort to reshape its portfolio and target its “most meaningful” opportunities. “We continue to streamline our organization and become more efficient, so that we can direct greater resources into our growth brands, pay down debt, and enhance long-term shareholder value,” Stornant said.

These transactions come as Wolverine, which owns the Saucony, Merrell, Sperry and Sweaty Betty brands, among others, undergoes a series of changes to simplify its business structure, which it rolled out in November.

As part of this “simplification,” the company announced it would explore the sale of its Keds brand and leathers business in December. In February, the company announced that DSW-parent company Designer Brands Inc. scooped up Keds in a deal that included a license with the Hush Puppies brand for the United States and Canada. At the time, Wolverine said the Keds and Hush Puppies deals will generate more than $90 million for the company.

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In May, Wolverine confirmed it was exploring strategic alternatives process for its Sperry brand, and in August, the company announced the planned closure of its Boston headquarters by the end of the year and the consolidation of its offices across the U.S. to its Rockford, Mich., campus.

In the second quarter of 2023, Wolverine reported revenues of $589.1 million, down 17.4 percent compared to the prior year.

Wolverine downgraded its full-year outlook and now expects revenues for the year to be in the range of $2.26 billion to $2.28 billion, which would represent a decline of about 10.7 percent to 10 percent compared with the prior year.

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