Caleres Names New President and Shakes Up Leadership Structure for Its Brands

Caleres Inc. has named a new president and made several key leadership changes as it forges ahead with growth initiatives amid a pandemic-induced new normal.

The St. Louis-based conglomerate announced today that Jay Schmidt has been appointed to the role of president, effective immediately. He assumes responsibility for all of the consumer and brand strategy across its roster of shoe labels, which includes Famous Footwear, Naturalizer, Sam Edelman, Vionic and Dr. Scholl’s.

Schmidt most recently held the position of division president of Caleres’ brand portfolio. Prior to joining the company in 2009, he spent more than 25 years working in merchandising, management and marketing: He served in several roles at Nine West Group over the course of a decade, as well as held positions of increasing responsibility at Lord & Taylor, May Merchandising Corporation and Macy’s.

“Jay is a strategic and innovative leader, merchant at his core, cultural steward and the ideal person to step into the president’s role,” chairman and CEO Diane Sullivan said in a statement. “He is one of a few people who can combine his extensive expertise with his strong vision around product creation and brand development, all while keeping the customer at the very center of his focus.”

In addition, Caleres has tapped both internal and external talent as it shakes up its portfolio’s leadership structure. Lydia Park Luis has joined the company as president of its New York Group brand portfolio, as well as taken on responsibility for its international business. She was most recently CEO of Jack Rogers and previously served as chief commercial officer of Rag & Bone, plus held senior positions in wholesale, international operations and licensing at Tory Burch.

Keith Duplain has been promoted to the post of St. Louis Group brand portfolio president. He has been with Caleres for 15 years and, according to the company,  played an “instrumental role in reconceptualizing and growing” the Dr. Scholl’s brand. More recently, he has been leading the organization’s sustainability efforts.

The executive moves come less than a month after Caleres tapped Michael Edwards as president of its biggest business, Famous Footwear. That appointment was effective Nov. 20.

“Luis, Duplain and Edwards — in combination with the outstanding leadership of Sam Edelman and [Vionic co-founder and CEO] Chris Gallagher — will create an even more powerful team as we continue to drive our consumer and brand strategy moving forward,” said Sullivan.

She added, “At this point in Caleres’ evolution, it’s extremely important that we aggressively manage our business and that we position our strongest leaders to focus on our most important opportunities to advance growth initiatives across the portfolio.”

What’s more, Caleres has formed a new “digital acceleration team” in order to advance its online business, which has seen a spike amid the coronavirus pandemic: During the third quarter ended Oct. 31, the group saw a 24.6% gain in total company-owned website sales, with e-commerce penetration rising to 25.4% of its net sales. SVP and chief information officer Willis Hill — a 12-year veteran of the firm — has been tasked with assembling the core digital team, formulating a strategy and executing a plan to drive further e-commerce growth across the portfolio.

According to the company, the high-level changes were made to ensure better alignment with its strategic direction, advance its brand goals, further product innovation and drive long-term value for shareholders.

“This transformation will drive a renewed, consumer-focused approach that will combine the knowhow of our internal resources with the fresh ideas of new industry talent and draw on the strengths of our entire portfolio in the most efficient and value-creating way possible,” Sullivan said. “As we continue to execute on our strategy, it is essential that we position Caleres to capture the growth opportunities we see in this rapidly evolving market environment.”

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