Manufacturing and Retail

Wolverine Worldwide winds down brand

July 22, 2015
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'Laid-back' footwear brand designs memory-foam shoes
The Cushe Kicks Collection for spring/summer 2015 features the Getaway for men and the Shakra for women. Courtesy Cushe

Wolverine Worldwide is discontinuing operations for one of its footwear brands in the coming year.

The Rockford-based footwear maker made the announcement yesterday as part of its 2Q15 earnings report.

Blake Krueger, Wolverine’s chairman, CEO and president, said the company will “wind-down operations for its smallest brand, Cushe, and redeploy talent and resources to other higher-value opportunities.”

Krueger said Wolverine expects to incur $3.5 million of restructuring and impairment costs in fiscal 2015 as a result.

Wolverine will continue to sell the Cushe brand through the 2016 spring/summer season.

Cushe brand

Cushe is part of Wolverine’s Performance Group, which also includes the Chaco, Merrell and Saucony brands.

Wolverine acquired Cushe, a U.K.-based company, in 2009.

Though the brand has had steady sales, Christopher Hufnagel, investor relations spokesperson for Wolverine, said it has not grown, nor has it performed as well as Wolverine had hoped.

“It’s a competitive market, and I think for us it was a brand that never really achieved the scale that we had planned for it,” Hufnagel said.

Portfolio transformation

The landscape has also changed dramatically for Wolverine since 2009, and Hufnagel said that was the main factor in the company’s decision.

Hufnagel noted that at the time of the Cushe acquisition, Wolverine was a $1.3-billion company with a smaller brand portfolio.

“Today, after the acquisition of our four Boston-based brands — Sperry, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds — we’re approaching $2.8 billion in sales,” Hufnagel said.

“We felt we had the opportunity to redeploy talent to pursue bigger growth opportunities for the company and ultimately return the greatest value to our shareholders.”

Highest-value brands

Hufnagel noted that Wolverine’s Merrell brand, which was acquired in the late 1990s, is the company’s largest-selling brand, with $600 million in sales across 138 countries and territories.

Sperry, which was part of the “transformational” 2012 acquisition of Performance & Lifestyle Group, is the company’s second highest-performing brand.

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