Wolverine Worldwide has decided to reduce the number of operating groups from four to three, following its acquisition last October of the Performance & Lifestyle Group (PLG) of Collective Brands, which brought the Saucony, Keds, Sperry Top-Sider and Stride Rite brands into its portfolio. These four brands have been redistributed among Wolverine's three former business units, one of which has been renamed from Outdoor Group to Performance Group.
The company said the move was intended to accelerate global growth initiatives and brand-building efforts. One of its indirect results will be the departure of Greg Ribatt, who led PLG with relative success. Each of the new groups will be led by a seasoned Wolverine veteran, who will act as president.
Jim Zwiers, who has run the former Outdoor Group of Wolverine since 2009, will head up the newly formed Performance Group, comprising Saucony as well as the Merrell, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear and Cushe brands, which were already under his responsibility. In his 15 years at Wolverine, Zwiers has held senior roles in retail, legal, administration, international, business strategy and development, and global brand leadership.
The Lifestyle Group is being expanded to take care of the Sperry Top-Sider and Stride Rite as well as Hush Puppies, Keds, and Soft Style brands. It will be run by Mark Neal, who previously oversaw the activities of Hush Puppies, Soft Style and Cushe alone. He has worked for Wolverine for 18 years, holding senior management roles of increasing responsibility.
Like before, the Heritage Group comprises the Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest brands. It will be led by Ted Gedra, who has been a group president since 2007 and has held several senior management positions during his 27-year career with Wolverine.
Meanwhile, Todd Yates has been promoted to the new position of president of the Wolverine and Hytest brands. He will report to Gedra and will be in charge of sales, marketing and product strategies for the two brands. He's been with Wolverine since 2009, serving as vice president of marketing for Wolverine, Bates, Hytest and Harley-Davidson while simultaneously holding the position of vice president and general manager at Wolverine Apparel. He has more than 25 years of experience with outdoor and apparel companies including Woolrich, The North Face and Columbia Sportswear.