Wolverine World Wide
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|Traded as||NYSE: WWW|
S&P 600 Component
|Founder||G. A. Krause and Fredrick Hirth|
|Blake Krueger, CEO|
|Products||Footwear, apparel, accessories, sportswear|
Number of employees
Wolverine World Wide, Inc. or Wolverine Worldwide is a publicly-traded American footwear manufacturer based in Rockford, Michigan, known for its own brand, Wolverine Boots and Shoes, as well as other brands such as Hush Puppies and Merrell. The company also manufactures licensed footwear for other companies, 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.
Founding and early years (1883 to 1959)
G. A. Krause and Fredrick Hirth founded the company in 1883. Fredrick Hirth and Mr. Krause bought a small leather shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, starting with a capital investment of $2,900. In 1901, they decided to build 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 now 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. From 1916-1923, its earnings increased 700%. [Wolverine World Wide booklet 11/1/1983 "A Tradition of Success"]
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.
Name change and expansion (1960 to 1989)
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.
Growth and Acquisitions (1990 to 2009)
In 1995, the Council of Fashion Designers of America voted Hush Puppies as Fashion Accessory of the Year.
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. The company discontinued the Cushe brand in 2015 and sold Sebago to Italian publicly-traded company BasicNet in 2017.
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. In the same year Wolverine World Wide converted Stride Rite to a licensed brand operated by New York City-based Vida Shoes International.
The company is based out of corporate offices in Rockford, Michigan and Waltham, Massachusetts. Wolverine World Wide also operates three distribution centers in the U.S., 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. 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."
In 2019, Wolverine World Wide reorganized into two operating segments:
- Wolverine Michigan Group whose brands include Bates, Cat footwear, Chaco, Harley-Davidson footwear, Hush Puppies, HyTest, Merrell and Wolverine
- Wolverine Boston Group whose brands include Keds, Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider, the Stride Rite licensed business and the kids footwear businesses of Cat, Hush Puppies, Keds, Merrell, Saucony and Sperry
- "Wolverine, Golden Gate, Blum agree to buy company whose brands include Keds, Sperry Top-Sider". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
- "Company Overview of Wolverine World Wide, Inc". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
- "History". Wolverine World Wide. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
- 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.
- "Wolverine Worldwide to drop another shoe brand, close more stores". M Live. July 22, 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
- "Wolverine Worldwide Announces Sale Of The Sebago Brand". PR Newswire. July 31, 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Say goodbye to Patagonia Footwear; Wolverine World Wide to stop production". M Live. July 15, 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
- "Wolverine Worldwide Announces Sale Of US Department Of Defense Footwear Business". September 29, 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "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.
- "Wolverine World Wide 2018 Annual Report with Form 10-K" (PDF). Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Wolverine World Wide 2019 Form 10-Q for the period ending June 29, 2019". Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- Wolverine World Wide booklet "A Tradition of Success" 11/1/1983