Wolverine World Wide, Inc. Announces Organizational Changes to Accelerate International Growth


ROCKFORD, Mich., Jan. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) today announced several key organizational changes designed to better align resources across its brand portfolio and accelerate growth in important international markets.

For over 50 years, Wolverine World Wide has been respected for its impressive track record in building brands around the world. The Company was one of the very first footwear or apparel companies to seek opportunities outside the United States when it introduced the Hush Puppies brand into international markets in 1959. Wolverine World Wide currently has one of the strongest networks of international partners in the industry, and today announced that it is implementing changes to its organization that will enhance the Company’s ability to capitalize on global opportunities and expand its international leadership position.

The Company is reorganizing to provide a sharper focus on the significant global opportunities that exist for each of its 12 brands, and will create a stand-alone International Group , with responsibility for driving growth of all of the Company’s brands in all markets outside of North America.  This new structure will enable the Company to develop and implement specific regional strategies and ensure the full power of the brand portfolio is brought to market.

The newly created International Group will be led by Bill Brown, a 24-year veteran of the Company.  As President of the International Group, Mr. Brown will report directly to the Company’s Chairman and CEO, Blake W. Krueger.  Mr. Brown most recently led the former Heritage Brands Group and has served in numerous senior brand management and international positions throughout his career with the Company, including roles with Hush Puppies, Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Harley-Davidson Footwear, Sebago and Merrell.

In addition to the new International Group , which will be responsible for the market development, selling activities and local market execution for all brands outside of North America, the Company is also announcing today that it will reorganize its portfolio into three branded wholesale operating groups:

  • The Outdoor Group , comprised of the Merrell, Chaco and Patagonia Footwear brands, led by Jim Zwiers;
  • The Heritage Group , comprised of the Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Bates, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest brands, led by Ted Gedra; and
  • The Lifestyle Group , comprised of the Hush Puppies, Cushe and Sebago brands, led by Mark Neal.

Reporting to Mr. Brown as the new Managing Director – EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), will be Onder Ors.  Mr. Ors served most recently as Senior Vice President, International for the Outdoor Group, and has been instrumental in the global growth of the Merrell brand over the last five years.  Also reporting to Mr. Brown will be Baffin Yip (Vice President of Greater China), Sanjay Mehra (Vice President of India), Sean Carney (Vice President – International for the Heritage Group), Bill Mirecki (Vice President – International for the Lifestyle Group), Linda Brunzell (Vice President – International for the Outdoor Group) and John MacLeod (Vice President of Finance and Special Projects – International Group).

Commenting on the changes, Blake W. Krueger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “The organizational realignment announced today represents a significant step forward for the Company.  The timing is right to capitalize on the exceptional momentum of our portfolio of brands, and we believe this new international structure will give us the flexibility and focus to accelerate the performance of our brands around the world.  We are pleased that we have the talent within our organization to support this business evolution and look forward to continued global growth and success for our brands.”

The benefits of this new structure include:

  • Strengthening the Company’s international teams and creating a more regionally focused infrastructure;
  • Providing focused leadership for all of its established EMEA businesses;
  • Implementing specific growth strategies for important emerging markets, such as Greater China and India;
  • Applying additional resources to the international opportunities with the most significant growth potential; and
  • Maximizing the ability of its brand-focused operations to do what they do best – developing innovative cutting-edge product, delivering compelling marketing strategies and forging strong and lasting connections with consumers.

Mr. Krueger concluded: “Our Company has a track record of consistent long-term growth, operational excellence and global brand building.  We are very optimistic about the future for our brands and look forward to this exciting next step in the Company’s global evolution.”

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 and uniform footwear and apparel.  The Company’s portfolio of highly recognized brands includes: Bates®, Chaco®, Cushe™, Hush Puppies®, HYTEST®, Merrell®, Sebago® Soft Style® and Wolverine®.  The Company also is the exclusive 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 more than 190 countries and territories. For additional information, please visit our website, www.wolverineworldwide.com.

SOURCE: Wolverine World Wide, Inc.