Wolverine Worldwide Reorganizes Brand Structure, Names New Presidents – Footwear News

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Wolverine World Wide Inc. announced several new actions on Wednesday that include a new brand group structure and leadership moves.

As of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, the Rockford, Mich.-based company said it has reorganized its portfolio of brands into three reportable segments. The Active Group now consists of Merrell footwear and apparel, Saucony footwear and apparel, Sweaty Betty activewear and Chaco footwear. The Work Group is comprised of Wolverine footwear and apparel, Cat footwear, Bates uniform footwear, Harley-Davidson footwear and HyTest safety footwear. And the Lifestyle Group consists of Sperry footwear, Keds footwear and Hush Puppies footwear and apparel.

Kids’ footwear results from Saucony, Sperry, Keds, Merrell, Hush Puppies and Cat will be reported within the applicable brand, Wolverine added.

This segment change was approved by the Wolverine Worldwide board of directors last week and will allow the company to focus on the brands and product categories that have the biggest opportunities to maximize future value creation, according to a statement from Mike Stornant, EVP and CFO of Wolverine Worldwide.

Brendan Hoffman, Wolverine Worldwide’s president and CEO added that the new group reporting structure is a “natural progression” of the business. “It combines brands that share similar traits under one segment, which we expect will pave the way for increased collaboration, sharing of best practices and ultimately value creation for our shareholders,” Hoffman said.

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The CEO also announced the establishment of the “Profit Improvement Office,” which will work to accelerate cost savings and efficiencies that will accelerate operating margin expansion and provide capacity for future investments.

“Our overarching goal is to deliver consistent and enhanced revenue and profit growth that will put the business on an accelerated path to return to and ultimately exceed 12% operating margin,” Hoffman added. “I firmly believe the changes announced today are fundamental steps towards achieving our goals.”

And, in connection with reorganizing the brand group structure, the company also announced new promotions and leadership appointments for three company veterans.

Chris Hufnagel has been tapped as president of the Active Group. The Saucony and Chaco brands will now report into Hufnagel, who will also continue leading the Merrell brand. The Sweaty Betty brand will continue reporting into Hoffman.

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Hufnagel is a 14-year veteran of the company and has held several key leadership roles including global president of Merrell since September 2019, global president of Cat Footwear, and corporate SVP and head of strategy. Prior to joining Wolverine Worldwide, Hufnagel held senior leadership roles at Under Armour, Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch.

As for the Work Group, Tom Kennedy has been tapped as president of the division segment, and the Wolverine, Cat Footwear, Bates, Harley-Davidson Footwear and Hytest brands will continue reporting into him. Kennedy is a seven-year veteran of the company and has held several key leadership roles, including global president of Sperry and president of apparel and accessories. Prior to joining Wolverine Worldwide, Kennedy held senior leadership positions at Nike, Gap, Fossil and PacSun.

Finally, Katherine Cousins has been appointed as president of the Lifestyle Group. The Hush Puppies brand will now report into Cousins, who joined the company as president of Sperry in 2021 and has also overseen Keds since the beginning of 2022. Prior to joining Wolverine Worldwide, Cousins served as VP and GM of the Kodiak, Terra and Work Authority brands at VF Corp., and led global strategy, consumer research, licensing and accessories for Timberland.

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“Chris, Tom and Katherine are each uniquely qualified for their new leadership appointments and bring significant breadth and depth of experience in leading global brands that deliver consistent and profitable growth,” added Hoffman. “I am confident that their successful track records and leadership skills will elevate and enhance the portfolio of brands that they will each lead.”

In a statement to FN, the company clarified that no executives have left the company due to this reorganization.

These changes were announced the same day as the company reported its third quarter 2022 results. In Q3, revenue was $691.4 million and represents growth of 8.6% versus the prior year. The company’s international business was especially strong, up 33% to $303 million. Direct-to-consumer revenue was up 4.5% to $160 million.

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