Soon Kids Can Hug Hush Puppies

June 28, 2004
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ROCKFORD — Wolverine World Wide Inc. (NYSE: WWW) today announced signing a multi-year contract to manufacture and market Hush Puppies that are held in the arms rather than worn on the feet.

The contract to produce a Hush Puppies line of so-called plush toys is with Russ Berrie & Co. Inc. (NYSE: RUS).

The firm is a 41-year-old, $394 million manufacturer known for its teddy bears, but which produces more than 8,000 assorted gift items that it sells in more than 41,000 specialty stores.

It markets its plush toys all over the world.

According to Wolverine, the global license agreement will allow the Hush Puppies toys to be available through the network of Hush Puppies licensees in more than 130 countries.

The initial product offering is an assortment of toys from 5 to 18 inches in size. They will be available in U.S. markets in September and their retail prices are expected to range from $5 to $50.

“Hush Puppies is one of the world’s foremost global footwear brands with one of the most well-loved icons in the world — the trademark Hush Puppies basset hound,” said Skip Zimmerman, president of Hush Puppies, a division of Wolverine.

He said that in addition to creating huggable versions of the sad-eyed basset, the firm’s team is designing other products for customers to whom the Hush Puppies brand appeals.

The Russ Berrie firm was founded in 1963 in a rented garage in New Jersey.           

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