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Wolverine Worldwide announces CEO succession timeline

By the end of the year, Brendan Hoffman will step into the role of chief executive at the parent company of Merrell, Chaco, and other footwear brands, succeeding Blake Krueger.

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Wolverine Worldwide Inc., whose portfolio includes outdoor footwear brands Merrell, Chaco, and others, on Wednesday announced that Brendan Hoffman will become CEO at the end of the year, succeeding Blake Krueger.

Hoffman, 52, is president of Wolverine Worldwide and a member of the company’s board of directors. He joined Wolverine as president and CEO-designee in September 2020 with oversight of the company’s brands and direct-to-consumer business, reporting directly to Krueger.

Wolverine Worldwide
Brendan Hoffman, right, will succeed Blake Krueger as CEO of Wolverine Worldwide at the end of 2021. Photo: Courtesy

“It’s been a privilege to work closely with Blake over the past year and I have gained tremendous knowledge of the industry and the unique strengths of the company’s global brand portfolio,” Hoffman said. “Blake has truly transformed the company during his tenure, and it is an honor to be entrusted with building on this incredible foundation, working with an industry-leading team, and capitalizing on the many opportunities ahead for Wolverine Worldwide.”

Hoffman joined Wolverine soon after the departure of Todd Spaletto, who is now heading up then Dick’s Sporting Goods’ new outdoor retail concept, Public Lands. (Spaletto recently spoke with Outside Business Journal in an exclusive video about Public Lands’ launch later this year.)

He takes the top spot at an opportune time as Wolverine is coming off an exceptionally strong first quarter on the strength of surging demand for outdoor footwear. Last month, the company reported Q1 revenue of  $510.7 million, a 16.3 percent increase from a year ago. Wolverine’s net earnings of $38.4 million tripled its profit of $12.8 million in Q1 2020.

One of Hoffman’s primary objectives during the last nine months has been driving the company’s e-commerce revenue goal of $500 million for 2021, doubling 2019 levels. On the last earnings call, Krueger again referenced the company’s improving e-commerce channel, which notched 83.6 percent growth in the period.

“Our ongoing investments in digital capabilities continue to fuel e-commerce growth, which is exceeding our expectations at this early stage in the year as we track towards our bold revenue goal of $500 million in 2021,” Hoffman told analysts on the May 12 earnings call. “In Q1, we leveraged increased digital marketing investments to drive more traffic, richer digital content, and storytelling to engage consumers, better merchandising to optimize conversion and additional testing and learning to improve site user experiences.”

Krueger, who joined the company in 1993 and has served as CEO since 2007 and chairman of the board since 2009, will transition to the newly created role of executive chairman.

“I look forward to continuing my work with Wolverine Worldwide and the board in my new role as executive chairman,” Krueger said. “I am confident that the company is in great hands and will have continued growth as Brendan takes over as the new CEO.”