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Wolverine Worldwide to Divest or License Keds Brand and Wolverine Leathers

Wolverine Worldwide has entered into a process to divest or license its Keds brand and Wolverine Leathers, the company’s vertically integrated leather supply business, describing both units as “low-profit contributors.”

The announcement comes as Wolverine, which owns the Saucony, Merrell, Sperry and Sweaty Betty brands, among others, undergoes a series of changes to simplify its business structure, which it rolled out last month. As part of the changes at Keds and Wolverine Leathers, the Rockford, Mich.-based company said it reduced part of its workforce earlier this week, a move that it expects to generate close to $30 million in savings in 2023.

Wolverine CEO and president Brendan Hoffman said in a statement that recent structural changes and these divestments will help “put the business on an accelerated path to improved profitability and restore Wolverine as a best-in-class brand house.”

“In this rapidly evolving retail environment, agility is more important than ever,” Hoffman added. “As such, I firmly believe that portfolio simplification and prioritization are essential to achieving our goals.”

Wolverine last month outlined a new brand group structure and leadership moves. As of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, Wolverine reorganized its portfolio of brands into three reportable segments and promoted three company veterans to lead each group. The Active Group now consists of Merrell footwear and apparel, Saucony footwear and apparel, Sweaty Betty activewear and Chaco footwear. The Work Group comprises Wolverine footwear and apparel, Cat footwear, Bates uniform footwear, Harley-Davidson footwear and HyTest safety footwear. And the Lifestyle Group consists of Sperry footwear, Hush Puppies footwear and apparel and, until recently, Keds footwear.

Hoffman previously said that this new reporting structure is a “natural progression” of the business.

The structural changes were announced as the company reported its third quarter 2022 results. In Q3, revenue was $691.4 million and represented growth of 8.6% versus the prior year. The company’s international business was especially strong, up 33% to $303 million. Direct-to-consumer revenue was up 4.5% to $160 million.

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