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Wolverine World Wide

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Wolverine World Wide
Company typePublic
Founded1883; 141 years ago (1883)
  • G. A. Krause
  • Fredrick Hirth
Key people
Chris Hufnagel (CEO)
ProductsFootwear, apparel, accessories, sportswear
RevenueIncrease US$2.68 billion (2022)[1]
Number of employees

Wolverine World Wide, Inc. or Wolverine Worldwide, is a publicly traded American footwear manufacturer based in Rockford, Michigan. The shoemaker is known for its eponymous brand, Wolverine Boots and Shoes, as well as other brands, such as Hush Puppies, Chaco, and Merrell. The company also manufactures licensed footwear for other firms, such as Caterpillar and Harley-Davidson. In 2012, Wolverine World Wide added Saucony, Keds, Stride Rite and Sperry Top-Sider to its list of brands, after acquiring the Performance Lifestyle Group of Collective Brands in a $1.23 billion transaction that also involved the sale of Payless ShoeSource and Collective Licensing International to private equity firms Blum Capital Partners and Golden Gate Capital.[2]


Founding and early years[edit]

Fredrick Hirth and G. A. Krause founded the company in 1883.[3] Hirth and Krause bought a small leather shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, starting with a capital investment of $2,900. In 1901, they built a plant in Rockford Michigan, just north of Grand Rapids. They purchased and expanded the Rogue River Electric Light and Power Company to power their new plant and the city of Rockford. In 1903, operations began and in 1908, a tannery followed. The company thus processed its own raw materials and manufactured its own shoes sold through the Hirth-Krause Company. In 1921 the company changed its name to Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Corporation. During the period 1916-1923 its earnings increased 700%.[4]

In 1941, during World War II, the Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Company began to work for the U.S. Navy, developing pigskin gloves and inventing what later became known as pigskin suede.[4][5]

Name change and acquisitions[edit]

In 1964, the company changed its name to Wolverine World Wide, Inc. and in 1965 became a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Hush Puppies, a casual footwear brand founded by the company in 1958, quickly rose to popularity in the 1960s.[4][5]

Caterpillar-branded work boots manufactured by Wolverine World Wide

In 1994, Wolverine World Wide introduced Cat Footwear, a licensed brand of shoes using the Caterpillar Inc. name.[4]

In 1995, the Council of Fashion Designers of America voted Hush Puppies as Fashion Accessory of the Year.[6]

In 1997, the company continued expanding by purchasing the Merrell brand.

In 1998, Wolverine World Wide acquired the global license for footwear from the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Wolverine World Wide acquisitions in the 2000s included the 2003 purchase of Sebago and 2009 purchases of Chaco and the UK-based brand Cushe.[7] The company discontinued the Cushe brand in 2015 and sold Sebago to Italian publicly traded company BasicNet in 2017.[8][9]

In 2006, Wolverine World Wide entered into a global footwear licensing deal with Patagonia. The company stopped production of Patagonia footwear in 2014.[10]


Wolverine World Wide nearly doubled in size after its 2012 acquisition of the Performance Lifestyle Group of Collective Brands, which added Saucony, Keds, Stride Rite and Sperry Top-Sider brands to its portfolio. In 2017 the company sold its United States Department of Defense footwear business along with a factory in Big Rapids, Michigan to Tennessee-based footwear manufacturer Original Footwear.[11] In the same year Wolverine World Wide converted Stride Rite to a licensed brand operated by New York City-based Vida Shoes International.[12]

The company is based out of corporate offices in Rockford, Michigan and Waltham, Massachusetts. Wolverine World Wide also operates three distribution centers in the United States, one in Canada and one in the Netherlands. As of December 29, 2018, Wolverine World Wide operated 80 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada and 42 consumer-direct eCommerce sites.[13] According to the company's 2018 annual report, "substantially all of the units sourced by the Company are procured from numerous third-party manufacturers in the Asia Pacific region. The Company maintains offices in the Asia Pacific region to develop and facilitate sourcing strategies."[13]

Wolverine World Wide operated various PFAS dumpsites throughout Belmont and Rockford that contaminated the drinking water of residents. These sites contaminated the water for hundreds of residents. The chemicals involved have been linked to various negative health effects, including several cancers[broken anchor].[14] In February 2020 Wolverine settled Grand Rapids federal court action by agreeing to pay $69.5 million to provide town-supplied drinking water to affected residents.[15]

In 2019, Wolverine World Wide reorganized into two operating segments:[16]

The company acquired British athleisure retailer Sweaty Betty in 2021[17] and divested its Keds brand in 2023.[18]


  1. ^ "2022 Annual Report" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Wolverine, Golden Gate, Blum agree to buy company whose brands include Keds, Sperry Top-Sider". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Company Overview of Wolverine World Wide, Inc". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "History booklet 11/1/1983 "A Tradition of Success"". Wolverine World Wide. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  5. ^ a b Pederson, Jay P. (February 6, 2004). International Directory of Company Histories. Vol. 59. Detroit, Michigan: St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-504-4. OL 8607119M – via Funding Universe.
  6. ^ Stafford, Rod (December 3, 1995). "If Di Can't Come, Forget the Cameras". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on July 2, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  7. ^ Boomgaard, Joe (October 13, 2010). "JUGGLING ACT: Wolverine World Wide prepares to integrate one of the largest ever acquisitions in the footwear industry". MiBiz. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  8. ^ "Wolverine Worldwide to drop another shoe brand, close more stores". M Live. July 22, 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Wolverine Worldwide Announces Sale Of The Sebago Brand". PR Newswire. July 31, 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Say goodbye to Patagonia Footwear; Wolverine World Wide to stop production". M Live. July 15, 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Wolverine Worldwide Announces Sale Of US Department Of Defense Footwear Business". September 29, 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Wolverine Worldwide Announces Agreement To License The Stride Rite Brand And Creation Of The Wolverine Children's Group". May 31, 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Wolverine World Wide 2018 Annual Report with Form 10-K" (PDF). Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Judge approves Wolverine PFAS water settlement". mlive. 2020-02-19. Retrieved 2022-05-31.
  15. ^ Malo, Sebastian. "Wolverine moves to settle Michigan PFAS lawsuit for $69.5 mln". Reuters. Reuters News Agency. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Wolverine World Wide 2019 Form 10-Q for the period ending June 29, 2019". Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  17. ^ "BBC News article on sale". 3 August 2021.
  18. ^ Fitzgerald, Benjamin. "Designer Brands acquires Keds from Wolverine, inks new Hush Puppies licensing deal". Fashion Network. Retrieved 2023-07-20.

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Business data for Wolverine World Wide: