Human Resources and Manufacturing

Wolverine re-organizes brands into three operating groups

Former head of recently acquired brands is leaving company.

January 8, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today announced organizational changes aimed at driving its future growth and global brand building, following its October $1.24-billion acquisition of Performance & Lifestyle Group, which included the Sperry, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds brands.

Rockford-based Wolverine is moving from four to three brand operating groups — led by Ted Gedra, Mark Neal and Jim Zwiers, all of whom are group presidents. Gregg Ribatt, former CEO/president of Performance & Lifestyle Group, will be leaving Wolverine.

"The acquisition of the Performance & Lifestyle Group has been transformational for our company and has created many new opportunities for global growth, brand building and operational excellence," said Blake W. Krueger, Wolverine's chairman/CEO. "Today, we are taking important steps to better align the team and realize our vision of having the best brands, products, operating platform and consumer experiences in the industry."

Gedra will head the Heritage Group, comprised of the Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest brands. Gedra has been a group president since 2007 and has been with Wolverine 27 years.

The Lifestyle Group will be led by Neal, who was group president for Hush Puppies, Soft Style and Cushe. Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite Children's Group and Keds are being added to the Lifestyle Group. Neal has been with Wolverine 18 years.

The Performance Group, comprising the Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear and Cushe brands, will be led by Zwiers, who headed the former Outdoor Group since 2009. He has been with Wolverine for 15 years.

Wolverine also announced today that Ribatt, who joined the company last year with the acquisition of Performance & Lifestyle Group, will be leaving the company to “pursue other opportunities outside the industry, following a transition period during, which he will help migrate the business to the new organization structure.”

"In five years with PLG, Gregg has done an excellent job leading PLG strategy and assembling an exceptional team of leaders that has driven these brands to the levels of success they are achieving today, and we thank him for his accomplishments. We are confident that this new organizational structure and the operating groups' newly appointed leaders will help accelerate the global performance of the former PLG brands," said Krueger.

He added that Wolverine has “one of the most dynamic brand portfolios in the world today,” a “proven business model” and “one of the deepest and best management teams in the industry.”

Wolverine Worldwide brands
Wolverine Worldwide's 16 brands have been re-organized into three operating groups: Heritage Group, Lifestyle Group and Performance Group. Courtesy Wolverine Worldwide

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