Wolverine Shuffles Top Brass

Wolverine Shuffles Top Brass
Gregg Ribatt

Wolverine World Wide Inc. earlier today reorganized its brands and managers.

Following the October close of its acquisition of Collective Brands Inc.’s Performance & Lifestyle Group, Wolverine said it is placing its brands into three operating groups, instead of the four previously stated.

Veteran Wolverine executives Ted Gedra, Mark Neal and Jim Zwiers have each been named Group President of the individual operating units, namely the Heritage Group, the Lifestyle Group and the Performance Group, respectively.

The Rockford, Mich.-based firm also said Gregg Ribatt, former CEO and president of PLG, is leaving the company “to pursue other opportunities outside the industry,” but not before he helps migrate the business to the new organizational structure.

“The acquisition of [PLG] has … created many new opportunities for global growth, brand building and operational excellence. Today, we are taking important steps to better align the team,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine’s chairman, president and CEO.

He added, “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.”

Analysts said Ribatt’s departure seems like a natural part of the process of integrating a new business into an organization. But Christopher Svezia, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial, expressed some surprise that the move “comes so quickly.”

Still, analysts added, they did not expect more departures from the brands acquired from Collective, including Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Keds and Stride Rite.

The Heritage Group now comprises the Wolverine, Caterpillar Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest brands. The Lifestyle Group encompasses the Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite Children’s Group, Hush Puppies, Keds and Soft Style brands; while the Performance Group consists of the Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear and Cushe labels.