MRO Magazine

Wolverine Worldwide Announces New Brand Operating Group Structure And Key Leadership Appointments

February 4, 2016
By PRN NewsWire

ROCKFORD, Mich., Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) today announced a new brand operating group structure and associated key leadership appointments.

Effective immediately, Wolverine Worldwide’s family of brands will be organized into three new brand operating groups:

1. Wolverine Outdoor and Lifestyle Group – Merrell, Chaco, Cat Footwear, Hush Puppies and Sebago 2. Wolverine Boston Group – Sperry, Saucony, and Keds 3. Wolverine Heritage Group – Wolverine, Bates, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest

The Company also operates a dedicated International Group designed to drive growth in all regions outside of North America and the Consumer Direct Group (including the Stride Rite Children’s Group) that leads Wolverine’s direct-to-consumer initiatives.


Jim Zwiers, an 18-year veteran of the Company who most recently served as president of the International Group, has been appointed president of the Wolverine Outdoor and Lifestyle Group. Mr. Zwiers brings with him a long record of success at the Company as a key strategic leader, coupled with significant international experience to lead the Company’s largest brand operating group with the highest international penetration. Mr. Zwiers has held numerous executive roles at Wolverine, with previous leadership responsibility over the Merrell, Chaco, and Hush Puppies brands. In his new position, Mr. Zwiers will also serve as president of Merrell until the ongoing search for this key role is concluded.


Richie Woodworth, recently named president of the Lifestyle Group, will now lead the Wolverine Boston Group as president. Mr. Woodworth has more than 30 years of experience in branded footwear and apparel and has continuously proven his ability to build brands and drive growth in some of the most competitive categories in the industry. Prior to his most recent appointment, Mr. Woodworth served nine years as president of Saucony – one of the fastest growing and most innovative brands within the Wolverine portfolio.


Ted Gedra, a 30-year veteran of Wolverine Worldwide, will continue to serve as president of the Wolverine Heritage Group. For the past nine years, Mr. Gedra has delivered consistent results leading the Wolverine Heritage Group and, prior to this role, held several other significant leadership roles within the Company. Throughout his long tenure with Wolverine, Mr. Gedra has built both strong brands and exceptional teams, in addition to being a member of the Company’s senior management team.


In conjunction with Jim Zwiers’ new appointment, Nick Ottenwess has been promoted to president of the International Group. Mr. Ottenwess has over 25 years of experience with the Company, serving in a variety of senior positions. Mr. Ottenwess is a seasoned leader and has developed strong relationships both internally and externally with key global partners. He has played a critical role in developing and implementing the global growth plans for the Company’s portfolio of brands. Most recently, Mr. Ottenwess was Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations for the International Group, reporting directly to Mr. Zwiers.

“I am very excited about our new brand group structure and am especially pleased that we have the talent and depth to promote from within the organization,” stated Blake W. Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. “Jim Zwiers brings extensive international experience to our most global brands, coupled with his prior experience in leading Hush Puppies, Chaco and Merrell. Richie Woodworth is a proven leader, innovator and brand-builder with significant expertise in growing both performance and lifestyle brands. Ted Gedra has been and continues to be a key leader for the Company. Finally, Nick Ottenwess is a veteran of the Company and will be able to leverage his recent experience in the International Group – working directly with the team and our more than 200 international partners – in this important role leading one of our most critical growth initiatives.”

In their new roles, Mr. Zwiers, Mr. Woodworth, Mr. Gedra and Mr. Ottenwess will all report directly to Mr. Krueger. The Company also announced that Jim Gabel has resigned his position as president of the Performance Group and will be relocating back to Canada for personal reasons.


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((R)), Sperry((R)), Hush Puppies((R)), Saucony((R)), Wolverine((R)), Keds((R)), Stride Rite((R)), Sebago((R)), Chaco((R)), Bates((R)), HYTEST((R)), and Soft Style((R)). The Company also is the global footwear licensee of the popular brands Cat((R)) and Harley-Davidson((R)). The Company’s products are carried by leading retailers in the U.S. and globally in approximately 200 countries and territories. For additional information, please visit our website,

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Wolverine World Wide, Inc.

CONTACT: Christopher Hufnagel, (616) 863-4865

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