Analysts Bullish on Converse CEO

NEW YORK — Analysts were upbeat about the executive switch at Converse last week and expect the brand to maintain its momentum under new leadership.

Michael Spillane, who was most recently president of North America and global product at the athletic brand, will move up to CEO at Converse, taking over for Jack Boys, who is retiring at the end of the year. Spillane joined the brand in 2007 as president of North American footwear.

“Spillane has been working with [Boys] for a couple of years. He knows the brand well and he understands what has gotten the brand to the level of success that it has achieved today,” said Camilo Lyon, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. “The continuity of the business and the strategy should flow uninterrupted.”

Matt Powell, analyst at SportsOneSource, agreed that Spillane is well-prepared for his new role.

“My understanding is that this was a planned event. After the acquisition by Nike, Jack Boys was only going to stick around for a while,” he said. “They were really prepping [Michael] from the first day, so I think he’s ready.”

While Converse continues to be an exceptional performer for Nike — the brand reported double-digit growth in the first quarter — analysts agree that there are a few obstacles ahead.

“The Chuck Taylor business has begun to show signs of maturity, so managing the slowed growth there will be a good challenge for him,” said Powell.

Prior to his role at Nike, Spillane served as CEO at Polartec and Malden Mills, and also held senior positions at Tommy Hilfiger and Jockey.

With that experience in mind, Lyon said the executive might take the brand deeper into the apparel category.

“The momentum and acceptance that Converse has had over the past few years has been nothing short of extraordinary, so now seems to be the right time to leverage that into different product categories,” Lyon said. “[Still], it’s always challenging to go from the success of one product and try to branch that out into another product category.”

In his new role, Spillane will report to Eunan McLaughlin, president of Nike Inc. Affiliates.

“We are very excited to have Michael in the CEO role,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “He has worked closely with Jack for the past two years developing Converse’s growth strategy. Their leadership, passion and deep understanding of the Converse consumer has uniquely positioned [the brand] for continued global growth.”

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