Wolverine steps up global brand building

ROCKFORD — Wolverine Worldwide is making organizational changes to drive its future growth and global brand building.

Capitalizing on the momentum following Wolverine’s October 2012 acquisition of the Performance & Lifestyle Group, it will migrate from four to three brand operating groups. Wolverine expects the new operating group alignment to 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 CEO. "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."

Wolverine is a leading global marketer of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children's and uniform footwear and apparel. Among its portfolio of brands are Merrell, Sperry Top-Sider, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine, Keds, Stride Rite, Sebago, Cushe, Chaco, Bates, HYTEST and Soft Style. It also is the global footwear licensee of the CAT, Harley-Davidson and Patagonia brands.

Its three new operating groups, each led by a group president, are the Heritage Group, the Lifestyle Group and the Performance Group. The Heritage Group will be headed by Gedra and include the Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest brands. The Lifestyle Group will be headed by Neal and will include the Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite Children's Group, Hush Puppies, Keds and Soft Style brands. The Performance Group will be headed by Zwiers and include the Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear and Cushe brands.

Former CEO and president of the Performance & Lifestyle Group Gregg Ribatt plans to leave the company to pursue other opportunities outside the industry following a transition period during which he will help with the reorganization.

"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,” said Krueger. "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 more than 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."

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