ROCKFORD, Mich. — 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”).
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:
“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.