Human Resources, Manufacturing, and Retail

Footwear brand appoints global president

September 13, 2019
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Chris Hufnagel
Chris Hufnagel. Courtesy Wolverine Worldwide

A footwear brand has found an “ideal fit” in its next global leader.

Rockford-based footwear and apparel maker Wolverine Worldwide said it appointed Chris Hufnagel as global brand president of Merrell, the largest brand within its portfolio.

A 10-year veteran of Wolverine, Hufnagel most recently served as global brand president of Cat Footwear.

In his new role, Hufnagel will continue reporting to Todd Spaletto, president of the Wolverine Michigan group.

“Chris took aggressive action to help the Cat Footwear team rapidly evolve its growth and go-to-market strategies,” Spaletto said. “His demonstrated collaboration and partnerships within Wolverine, coupled with deep apparel and lifestyle brand experience, make him an ideal fit to build on the strong foundation already in place at Merrell.”

Hufnagel replaces Sue Rechner, who is leaving the company.

“The Merrell brand has made significant accomplishments over the past two years with Sue’s leadership, and we want to thank her for her great work and wish her only the very best,” Spaletto said.

Hufnagel said he is excited to join Merrell.

“Merrell is a very special brand with a rich heritage and an even more promising future,” he said. “I’m excited to join the team as we work together to build amazing products, tell compelling stories, drive accelerated growth around the world and continue helping everyone experience the power of the trail.”

During his tenure at Wolverine, Hufnagel also served as president of consumer direct, senior vice president and head of corporate strategy, and co-chief transformation officer for the WOLVERINE WAY FORWARD initiative.

He also started Wolverine’s consumer insights and market intelligence function and, before joining the company, held leadership roles at Under Armour, the Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Hufnagel earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Alma College.

He is a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony board of directors, the Grand Rapids Art Museum board of trustees and the President’s Advisory Council at Alma College.

Wolverine Worldwide

Founded in 1883, Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) makes footwear and apparel for a variety of markets: casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children’s and uniform.

In addition to its own portfolio of 10 brands — Bates, Chaco, Hush Puppies, HYTEST, Keds, Merrell, Saucony, Sperry, Stride Rite and Wolverine — the company also is the global footwear licensee of the brands Cat and Harley-Davidson.

Its products are carried by retailers in about 200 countries and territories.

The company reported revenue of about $2.2 billion in 2018.


Merrell was founded by Clark Matis, Randy Merrell and John Schweizer in 1981 as a maker of high-performance hiking boots.

Since 1997, it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolverine.

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