ROCKFORD, Mich., June 16, 2014 -- Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today announced important organizational changes to strengthen its senior leadership team and help accelerate global growth.
International business development has long been a key driver for Wolverine Worldwide, and in 2011, the Company created a stand-alone International Group to place more focus on accelerating global growth and capitalizing on the significant opportunities that exist for the Company's portfolio of 16 lifestyle brands. Today, Wolverine is pleased to announce that James D. Zwiers has been appointed President of the International Group. Mr. Zwiers has held numerous and increasingly significant leadership roles during his 16 years with the Company, including President, Performance Group; President, Outdoor Group; President, Hush Puppies USA; and Senior Vice President with responsibilities for strategy, business development, consumer direct and legal.
Wolverine's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Blake W. Krueger, commented, "Our global business model is one of the key differentiators for Wolverine, and Jim Zwiers is uniquely qualified to lead the International Group as the Company expands the reach of its brands around the world. Jim has held significant leadership roles with some of the largest and most international brands in our portfolio, and we are excited to add his talent, passion and experience to the International Group – he is the right leader at the right time for this important part of our business."
The Company is also pleased to announce that James A. Gabel will succeed Mr. Zwiers as President of the Performance Group, which is comprised of the Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Cushe and Patagonia Footwear brands. Mr. Gabel brings to Wolverine a deep passion for performance brands, having most recently served as President of adidas Group Canada, where he was responsible for the successful growth and development of the adidas, Reebok, Rockport, Ashworth, Adams Golf and TaylorMade brands. Prior to that, Mr. Gabel was President of Reebok North America and also previously served in a variety of key roles with other performance brands that included Champion and Mizuno. Mr. Gabel will report directly to Mr. Krueger and represents a key addition to the Company's senior leadership team.
"Jim Gabel is a well-respected and proven leader in our industry," said Mr. Krueger. "Jim's extensive experience building performance footwear and apparel brands and successful track record driving growth across multiple consumer channels make him an ideal leader for the Performance Group. We are thrilled to welcome Jim to our leadership team and expect him to have a powerful impact on the global reach and growth of the Performance Group brands and the Company's broader strategic initiatives."
"It is an exciting opportunity to work with the industry-leading brands that are part of Wolverine Worldwide's Performance Group," said Mr. Gabel. "Merrell and Saucony are powerhouse brands, and combined with the brand propositions of Chaco, Cushe and Patagonia Footwear, this is a unique and compelling opportunity within our industry. I am privileged to join Wolverine and lead the teams that are driving innovation and growth for these tremendous brands.
The Company also announced the appointment of Andrew Simister as President of the Company's Lifestyle Group, which is comprised of Sperry Top-Sider, Hush Puppies, Keds and the Stride Rite Children's Group. Most recently, Mr. Simister was President of the Lacoste Footwear brand for Pentland Brands, where he also served on its Executive Leadership team. Prior to his time at Pentland, Mr. Simister served in key leadership roles with Puma. Mr. Simister is a proven global brand leader who has a successful track record of building strong teams and delivering consistent top and bottom-line results. Mr. Simister will report directly to Mr. Krueger and join the Company's senior leadership team.
"We are very fortunate at Wolverine Worldwide to be recognized in our industry for the strength and depth of our leadership team," said Mr. Krueger. "Andy Simister adds to this team with his global brand-building point-of-view and exceptional leadership qualities, and we're excited to have him join the Company. I look forward to Andy's valuable contributions in not only leading the Lifestyle Group, but also the Company's planned future global success through its significant family of brands.
"I have long admired Wolverine Worldwide and its impressive portfolio of world-class brands," said Mr. Simister. "I am thrilled to bring my experience and passion for building brands and leading teams to this dynamic Company. The opportunity to lead not only one of the world's most-loved brands, Hush Puppies, but also industry-leading brands such as Sperry Top-Sider and Stride Rite, along with Keds and its tremendous growth story, is simply a privilege.
The Company also announced the retirement of William J.B. Brown, a 27-year veteran of Wolverine. Mr. Brown, who in addition to being the first President of the International Group, held many key leadership roles within the Company during his long and successful career and has been instrumental in the global expansion of Wolverine Worldwide's portfolio of brands.
Mr. Krueger concluded, "The leadership changes announced today represent the next step in the evolution of Wolverine Worldwide. We are extremely pleased to be able to attract the industry's best and brightest, and also develop key talent within our own organization. These changes help position our Company for future growth and success. Finally, I want to personally thank Bill Brown for his service and unparalleled dedication to the Company during his career and wish him only the best in his well-deserved retirement."
With a commitment to service and product excellence, Wolverine World Wide, Inc. is one of the world's leading marketers of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children's and uniform footwear and apparel. The Company's portfolio of highly recognized brands includes: Merrell®, Sperry Top-Sider®, Hush Puppies®, Saucony®, Wolverine®, Keds®, Stride Rite®, Sebago®, Cushe®, Chaco®, Bates®, HYTEST®, and Soft Style®. The Company also is the global footwear licensee of popular brands including Cat®, Harley-Davidson® and Patagonia®. The Company's products are carried by leading retailers in the U.S. and globally in over 200 countries and territories. For additional information, please visit our website, www.wolverineworldwide.com.