Wolverine Worldwide Announces Organizational Changes to Drive Global Brand Building and Growth

Jan 08, 2013, 08:30 ET from Wolverine Worldwide

ROCKFORD, Mich., Jan. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today announced several key organizational moves to drive its future growth and global brand building following its October 2012 acquisition of the Performance & Lifestyle Group ("PLG").

Highlights include:

  • The Company will migrate from four to three brand Operating Groups.
  • The new Operating Group alignment will maximize brand synergies and leverage global growth opportunities.
  • Veteran Company leaders Ted Gedra, Mark Neal, and Jim Zwiers will lead the new Operating Groups.

"The acquisition of the Performance & Lifestyle Group has been transformational for our Company and has created many new opportunities for global growth, brand building, and operational excellence," said Blake W. Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  "Today, we are taking important steps to better align the team and realize our vision of having the best brands, products, operating platform, and consumer experiences in the industry."

To accelerate the Company's global growth initiatives and brand-building efforts, the Company will be organized into three Operating Groups – each led by a Group President.

  • The HERITAGE GROUP – comprising of the Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear, and HyTest brands – will be led by Ted Gedra.  Gedra has been a Group President since 2007 and has held several senior management positions during his 27-year career with Wolverine Worldwide.
  • The LIFESTYLE GROUP – comprising of the Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite Children's Group, Hush Puppies, Keds, and Soft Style brands – will be led by Mark Neal.  Neal previously served as Group President for Hush Puppies, Soft Style, and Cushe and is adding three PLG brands (Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite Children's Group, and Keds) to his responsibilities.  He has held senior management roles of increasing responsibility during his 18-year tenure with the Company.
  • The PERFORMANCE GROUP – comprising of the Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear, and Cushe brands – will be led by Jim Zwiers.  Zwiers has led the former Outdoor Group since 2009.  He has held a variety of senior roles in retail, legal, administration, international, business strategy and development, and global brand leadership during his 15-year career with Wolverine Worldwide.

The new Wolverine Worldwide Operating Groups are listed below:

Heritage Group

Lifestyle Group

Performance Group


Sperry Top-Sider®



Stride Rite®



Hush Puppies®






Soft Style®



(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130108/DE38667 )

"These organizational changes represent a significant step forward for our Company following the acquisition of PLG," continued Mr. Krueger. "We have one of the most dynamic brand portfolios in the world today, a proven business model focused on driving top and bottom line growth, and one of the deepest and best management teams in the industry."

The Company also announced today that Gregg Ribatt, former CEO and President of the Performance & Lifestyle Group, will be leaving the Company to pursue other opportunities outside the industry following a transition period during which he will help migrate the business to the new organization structure.  Commenting on the move, Krueger stated, "In five years with PLG, Gregg has done an excellent job leading PLG strategy and assembling an exceptional team of leaders that has driven these brands to the levels of success they are achieving today, and we thank him for his accomplishments.  We are confident that this new organizational structure and the Operating Groups' newly appointed leaders will help accelerate the global performance of the former PLG brands."

Mr. Krueger concluded, "Our Company has a track record of consistent performance, operational excellence, and building brands on a global basis.  The moves today represent one more step in our evolution as the world's leading and most-loved portfolio of brands.  Our global team of over 8,000 associates is energized and focused on long-term growth and success, and I couldn't be more excited about the future of our Company."

With a commitment to service and product excellence, Wolverine World Wide, Inc. is one of the world's leading marketers of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children's and uniform footwear and apparel.  The Company's portfolio of highly recognized brands includes: Merrell®, Sperry Top-Sider®, Hush Puppies®, Saucony®, Wolverine®, Keds®, Stride Rite®, Sebago®, Cushe®, Chaco®, Bates®, HYTEST®, and Soft Style®.  The Company also is the global footwear licensee of popular brands including CAT®, Harley-Davidson® and Patagonia®. The Company's products are carried by leading retailers in the U.S. and globally in approximately 200 countries and territories. For additional information, please visit our website, www.wolverineworldwide.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements. In addition, words such as "estimates," "anticipates," "believes," "forecasts," "plans," "predicts," "projects," "is likely," "expects," "intends," "should," "will," variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions ("Risk Factors") that are difficult to predict with regard to timing, extent, likelihood and degree of occurrence. Therefore, actual results and outcomes may materially differ from what may be expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements.  Risk Factors include, among others:  the Company's ability to realize the benefits of the PLG acquisition on a timely basis or at all; the Company's ability to combine its businesses and PLG successfully or in a timely and cost-efficient manner; the degree of business disruption relating to the PLG acquisition; the Company's ability to successfully develop its brands and businesses; changes in interest rates, tax laws, duty structures, tariffs, quotas or applicable assessments in countries of import and export including anti-dumping measures and trade defense actions; changes in consumer preferences, spending patterns, buying patterns or price sensitivity; changes in future pension funding requirements and pension expenses; the ability to secure and protect owned intellectual property or use licensed intellectual property; cancellation of orders for future delivery, or the failure of the Department of Defense to exercise future purchase options, award new contracts or the cancellation of existing contracts by the Department of Defense or other military purchasers; changes in planned customer demand, re-orders or at-once orders; changes in relationships with, including the loss of, significant customers; the availability and pricing of footwear manufacturing capacity; reliance on foreign sourcing; failure of international licensees and distributors to meet sales goals or to make timely payments on amounts owed; disruption of technology systems; regulatory or other changes affecting the supply or price of materials used in manufacturing; the impact of regulatory or legal proceedings and legal compliance risks; the availability of power, labor and resources in key foreign sourcing countries, including China; the cost, availability and management of raw materials, inventories, services and labor for owned and contract manufacturers; the impact of competition and pricing; the impact of changes in the value of foreign currencies; the development of new initiatives; the risks of doing business in developing countries, and politically or economically volatile areas; retail buying patterns; consolidation in the retail sector; changes in economic and market conditions; acts and effects of war and terrorism; seasonality and weather; problems affecting the Company's distribution system, including service interruptions at shipping and receiving ports; the failure to maintain the security of personally identifiable and other information of customers, stockholders and employees; and additional factors discussed in the Company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and exhibits thereto.  Other Risk Factors exist, and new Risk Factors emerge from time to time that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Given these risks and uncertainties, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a prediction of actual results.  Furthermore, the Company undertakes no obligation to update, amend or clarify forward-looking statements.

SOURCE Wolverine Worldwide