Brendan Hoffman Tapped as Wolverine World Wide President, Will Succeed Blake Krueger as CEO

Brendan Hoffman, who led the turnaround of the Vince contemporary brand as CEO of Vince Holding Corp., will join Wolverine Worldwide Inc. as president on Sept. 8.

At some point next year, Hoffman will step up to CEO of the $2.3 billion Wolverine, while continuing as president. The precise timing is to be determined depending on the needs of the company.

Hoffman will succeed Blake Krueger, currently president, CEO and chairman, through what officials described as an orderly transition period. Hoffman is also joining the Wolverine board.

David Stefko, Vince Holding’s EVP and CFO, has been named interim CEO, succeeding Hoffman. The board and a search firm will seek a permanent CEO for the $375.2 million company, which operates the Rebecca Taylor and Parker brands as well as Vince.

Hoffman’s extensive experience in retail, wholesale and digital channels was a critical factor in recruiting him to Wolverine, primarily a wholesale and e-commerce business with an array of branded casual, active, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children’s and uniform footwear and apparel.

Hoffman’s last experience running a contemporary women’s business also presents Wolverine with an opportunity to bring more fashion into a business that’s dominated by footwear.

Brendan Hoffman in 2011.

In an interview Tuesday, Hoffman said he plans to buy a home in the Grand Rapids area near Wolverine headquarters in Rockford, Mich.

Wolverine also has headquarters in Boston due to its acquisition of the PLG group from Collective Brands Inc. in 2010, which brought the Sperry, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds brands into the Wolverine Worldwide family of brands. The portfolio also includes Merrell, Hush Puppies, Wolverine, Chaco, Bates and Hytest. In addition, the company is the global footwear licensee of Cat and Harley-Davidson and it operates 97 stores, including 46 Merrell, 48 Sperry and three Saucony units.

“This is a great opportunity to combine both what I’ve learned during my 25 years in department stores managing a portfolio of brands and categories, and the last five years leading a vertical  brand,” Hoffman told WWD. “As a team, we will embrace a consumer direct mindset while we forge even stronger connections between global consumers and our brands.”

As president, Hoffman will oversee the 12 brands in the Wolverine portfolio, as well as the digital and international businesses. “Wolverine Worldwide speaks to a wide breadth of consumers,” Hoffman noted.

Krueger, Wolverine’s CEO and president since 2007, said in a statement that Hoffman brings “a valuable set of skills and experiences that will help our brands capitalize on the many opportunities that lie ahead. He brings a passion and strategic vision for consumer direct and omni-channel retail that is well-suited for the digital pivot and accelerated changes in consumer behavior now taking place in the global marketplace.”

Krueger said Hoffman’s appointment is the result of a multi-year succession and search process.

At Vince, Hoffman grew the e-commerce and digital platforms; adapted the supply chain to buy now, wear now trends, and extended the brand into home, handbags and special sizes, among other categories previously not offered.

Prior to joining Vince in 2015, Hoffman was president and CEO of the former Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and before that, president and CEO of Lord & Taylor.

Earlier, as president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Direct in Dallas, he established the Neiman Marcus Group as a pioneer in luxury e-commerce. He helped grow NeimanMarcus.com and launched BergdorfGoodman.com and Horchow.com.

Last week Wolverine reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter, marked by strong liquidity. The company said cash flow initiatives coupled with better-than-expected revenue and profit in the quarter led to $116 million of operating cash flow. There was a loss per diluted share of $0.02 but on an adjusted basis, per share earnings were positive at $0.08. Revenue was $349.1 million, down 38.6 percent. Owned e-commerce revenue grew 96%.

“Our brands excelled online, with nearly triple-digit owned e-commerce revenue growth, benefiting from strength in key product categories that are resonating with consumers and the digital capabilities we have invested in over the last several years,” Krueger said last week. “The acceleration of our digital direct offense, together with our diversified and agile business model, enabled the company to adapt to the rapidly-changing marketplace and deliver positive earnings and exceptional cash flow in the quarter. We believe the company is positioned well to accelerate out of the current market downturn once the impact of the pandemic subsides.”

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