Milton Cardoso Dos Santos Filho has resigned as chief executive of Vulcabras, the big Brazilian company that owns the Azaleia and Olympikus brands and manages the distribution of Reebok in three Latin American countries. He has also left the company's board of directors. A public statement said that he is leaving for “personal reasons,” but his departure may be linked to the serious financial problems that the company has been suffering lately.
Cardoso, who has been with Vulcabras for 15 years, has agreed to remain at the company's disposal during a transition period. Company officials indicate that he may even come back at a later stage. In the meantime, his position has been taken over by Pedro Grendene Bartelle, chairman and major shareholder of Vulcabras.
In announcing Cardoso's resignation on July 30, Vulcabras also said that the board of directors has appointed a management consultant, Claudio Eugenio Stiller Galeazzi, and that a memorandum of understanding signed on May 8 with a private equity investment fund, Patria Investimentos, has been canceled by mutual agreement.
Galeazzi is a well-known company doctor who has been involved in the reorganization of at least two other big Brazilian companies, Pão d'Azucar and Lojas Americanas. The investment fund had indicated its willingness to take part in a badly needed refinancing of Vulcabras.
Company officials are developing a new business plan for the second half of this year and for 2013 that will probably involve a new round of cost cutbacks and a reassessment of the company's strategies, which have been focused on manufacturing the vast majority of its shoes in Brazil.
Vulcabras remains the largest shoe producer in Brazil in terms of employment although it eliminated 8,824 out of the 45,068 jobs within the company last year, as the volume of footwear it sold fell by 20 percent to 38.6 million pairs.
Cardoso blamed strong competition from the major international sports brands for the poor performance. As president of Abicalçados, the Brazilian sporting goods industry association, he successfully campaigned for the imposition by the Brazilian government of anti-dumping duties on shoes from China in March 2010. He was confirmed president of Abicalçados last June.