Wolverine Worldwide announced the resignation of Jim Gabel, president of its Performance Group, saying that he is relocating back to Canada for personal reasons. He had joined Wolverine two years ago after running Adidas Canada.
With his departure, Wolverine is again reshuffling its brand management structure, creating a new operating group, the Wolverine Boston Group. It will run Sperry, Saucony and Keds. Along with Stride Rite, which is now going to be managed separately, they were three of the four so-called Boston brands that the Michigan-based group took over four years ago from the former Boston-based Collective Brands.
Merrell, Chaco, Cat Footwear, Hush Puppies and Sebago will all be part of the new Wolverine Outdoor and Lifestyle Group. The other brands – Wolverine, Bates, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest – will belong to the Wolverine Heritage Group. A Consumer Direct Group will handle the company's network of Stride Rite children's stores, which is being pared down, as previously reported.
The Wolverine International Group will remain in place, but its head, Jim Zwiers, is being reassigned to run the new expanded Wolverine Outdoor and Lifestyle Group. It will be Wolverine's largest brand operating group and the one with the largest international presence. Zwiers will also oversee Merrell directly until a new president is found for the brand following the recent departure of Gene McCarthy.
Before running the International Group, Zwiers, who has spent 18 years with the company, had been in charge before of the former Outdoor Group of Wolverine, which comprised at the time Merrell, Chaco and the former Patagonia footwear license, which was discontinued last year. That group subsequently became the Performance Group, which also included Saucony.
The new head of the International Group, which manages relations with the group's 200-plus distributors and licensees around the world, will be Nick Ottenwess, who has been promoted from his role as senior vice president of finance and operations for Wolverine's International Group.
Richie Woodworth will lead the new Wolverine Boston Group. Woodworth, who has more than 30 years of experience in branded footwear and apparel, had been appointed on Jan. 3 as president of the former Lifestyle Group, which comprised Keds, Hush Puppies, Sperry and Stride Rite. Before running the Lifestyle Group, Woodworth had been in charge of the Saucony brand.
Ted Gedra, a 30-year veteran of the company, will remain at the head of the Wolverine Heritage Group. All four group presidents will report to Blake Krueger, chairman, president and chief executive of Wolverine.