Human Resources and Manufacturing

Wolverine Worldwide names group presidents

June 16, 2014
| By Pete Daly |
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Wolverine Worldwide names group presidents
James Zwiers. Photo via linkedin.com

A new leadership team is in place at one of West Michigan’s largest manufacturers.

International Group

Wolverine Worldwide announced today the promotion of James D. Zwiers and other new executives, which it said are calculated to strengthen the senior leadership team and help accelerate global growth.

Zwiers, a 16-year management veteran at Wolverine, will now head the International Group, created in 2011 as a stand-alone division to accelerate global growth and capitalize on opportunities for the Rockford corporation’s 16 brands of footwear and apparel.

Zwiers previously served as president of the Performance Group, the Outdoor Group and Hush Puppies USA. He also has served as a senior vice president for strategy, business development, consumer direct sales and legal affairs.

“Jim has held significant leadership roles with some of the largest and most international brands in our portfolio, and we are excited to add his talent, passion and experience to the International Group — he is the right leader at the right time for this important part of our business,” said Blake W. Krueger, chairman and CEO, Wolverine Worldwide.

Performance Group

James A. Gabel has joined Wolverine to succeed Zwiers as president of the Performance Group, which includes the Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Cushe and Patagonia footwear brands.

He was president of Adidas Group Canada, responsible for the Adidas, Reebok, Rockport, Ashworth, Adams Golf and TaylorMade brands.

Prior to that, he was president of Reebok North America and also previously played key roles with other performance brands that included Champion and Mizuno.

“Jim Gabel is a well respected and proven leader in our industry,” Krueger said. “We are thrilled to welcome Jim to our leadership team and expect him to have a powerful impact on the global reach and growth of the Performance Group brands and the company’s broader strategic initiatives.”

Lifestyle Group

Andrew Simister also was announced as president of the Wolverine Lifestyle Group, comprised of Sperry Top-Sider, Hush Puppies, Keds and the Stride Rite Children’s Group.

He was previously president of the Lacoste Footwear brand for Pentland Brands, where he also served on its executive leadership team.

Simister also served in key leadership roles with Puma.

Krueger said Simister adds to Wolverine’s executive team “with his global brand-building point of view and exceptional leadership qualities, and we’re excited to have him join the company.”

Retiring

Wolverine also announced the retirement of William J.B. Brown, a 27-year veteran of the company.

Brown was the first president of the International Group and held many key leadership roles and proved instrumental in the global expansion of Wolverine Worldwide footwear brands.

“I want to personally thank Bill Brown for his service and unparalleled dedication to the company during his career and wish him only the best in his well-deserved retirement,” Krueger said.

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