Wolverine World Wide has signed a long-term licensing deal with Patagonia under which Wolverine’s Merrell brand will handle the development, the sourcing, the marketing and the sale of a full line of performance-oriented and environmentally friendly footwear under the Patagonia brand name. The agreement also gives Wolverine the right to do the same for two secondary brands of Patagonia - Water Girl, which is a clothing and swimwear brand for women, and Lotus Designs, which stands for white-water paddling gear.

Wolverine’s first collection of Patagonia footwear is slated for Spring 2007, giving it plenty of time to prepare its introduction. It will be sold in the 32-plus Patagonia stores in Europe, the USA and Japan, through Patagonia’s distribution network and in premium footwear and outdoor specialty stores. Wolverine has decided to set up a dedicated sales team for the line, in order to avoid any conflict with Merrell and its other brands. This goes also for Europe. The new Patagonia footwear project is led by Jacques Lavertue, the dynamic Canadian executive who runs Wolverine’s outdoor group. He already took responsibility for the sailing-oriented Sebago brand of shoes, bought by Wolverine last year.

As part of its new relationship with Patagonia, Wolverine will participate in “1% For the Planet,” an organization started by Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. WWW will donate 1 percent of Patagonia footwear sales to environmental organizations. Patagonia’s sales worldwide were $240 million in the last financial year.

Meanwhile, Merrell is expanding its presence in the Northern part of Europe. Pierre Hedberg, former sales manager of Vagabond, has joined Merrell’s new team of 11 salespeople in the Nordic countries to expand the presence of the brand’s more casual styles among shoe retailers in Sweden. At the same time, Merrell’s sales office in Helsinki is extending its reach to cover the three Baltic states.

The Nordic sales team reports to Peter Granborn, recently appointed as Merrell’s Nordic sales manager, based in Gothenburg. He worked previously for Jofa, the Swedish supplier of hockey equipment, which previously handled Merrell’s distribution in Sweden and Finland. The contract was broken six months ago after Reebok took over Jofa’s parent, The Hockey Company. A Danish distributor, Bonvita, continues to market Merrell’s products in Denmark, Norway and Iceland.