Merrell sales rebound for Wolverine Worldwide in 3Q

After a choppy first half of the year, Wolverine Worldwide’s Performance group — including Merrell and Chaco brands — rebounded in the third quarter.
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After a choppy first half of the year, Wolverine Worldwide’s Performance Footwear group — including Merrell and Chaco brands — rebounded in the third quarter 2013 with strong sales in almost every category.

The group, which also includes Patagonia Footwear and Cushe brands, posted a 13.4 quarterly pro forma gain in sales versus a year ago. Total group sales, with the addition of the recently acquired Saucony, rose 67 percent to $254.1 million.

Officials said Merrell, Saucony, Chaco and Cushe all delivered double-digit sales growth with particular strength in Latin America and improving results in Europe.

“Merrell's strong results in the quarter reflect growth from each of the Performance Outdoor, Outside Athletic and Active Lifestyle categories, with the latter being especially gratifying because we've been working very hard to regain traction with the brand's casual offerings,” Wolverine Worldwide CFO Don Grimes told investors during the company’s conference call, Oct. 7.

It’s a reversal of fortune for Wolverine’s performance group, which had struggled in the early going due to weaker early-winter sales, and then a cool spring hurting spring sales. Pro forma sales for the group increased 1.7 percent in the first quarter, and fell 4.8 percent in the second quarter.

Company officials remained bullish for upcoming results in the fourth quarter, and could reap gains in a rebounding outdoor boot market, while some losses might come next spring in a backlash against the minimalist trend. Sales performance for manufacturers can lag about year behind current retail trends since much is ordered a year in advance.

Total third-quarter 2013 revenue at Wolverine, which is also parent to Keds and Sperry Top-Sider, among numerous other footwear brands, rose 9 percent pro forma, and 103 percent to $716.7 million, including acquisitions. Quarterly net profit rose to $54.4 million versus $32.8 million a year ago.

--David Clucas

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