- Completing its plan to shed one of its subsidiary brands, Wolverine Worldwide sold the Keds brand to Designer Brands, shoe retailer DSW’s parent company announced Wednesday in a press release. The company said it is also licensing the Hush Puppies footwear brand to Designer Brands, a move it made after partnering with the retailer for Hush Puppies exclusively last year.
- The company completed the sale on Feb. 4, and the Hush Puppies license is expected to start on July 1. It will disclose the effect of these transactions during its earnings call on Feb. 22, the company said in the release.
- In its statement, the company also said that it is considering its next move for the Wolverine Leathers business.
The fate of Wolverine Leathers has been uncertain in recent months. In December, Wolverine Worldwide announced plans to license or divest Keds and Wolverine Leathers businesses as part of its growth strategy. For now, Wolverine Worldwide is handing off Keds to Designer Brands to “guide the iconic Keds brand into its next phase,” Brendan Hoffman, Wolverine Worldwide’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“Selling Keds and licensing the Hush Puppies brand for the United States and Canada is an important step as we continue to advance our strategy to simplify the portfolio and direct resources to our growth brands. We are confident this will place Wolverine on an accelerated path to improved profitability and long-term shareholder value creation,” Hoffman said in a statement. “Combined, these transactions will generate total cash of over $90 million, including the monetization of working capital. The proceeds will be used to pay down debt and strengthen our capital structure.”
Meanwhile, Designer Brands has undergone a leadership change and is diversifying its product assortment. After cutting more than 1,000 jobs in 2020, the company said last April that it wants to increase its revenue from private labels. Last month, the company appointed Doug Howe to become its new chief executive, a role following his previous positions as president of DSW and chief merchandising officer at Kohl’s.
Besides acquiring Keds and concentrating on its own private labels, Designer Brands also purchased Topo Athletic, adding more offerings in its performance athletic and outdoor footwear categories. As part of the deal, Tony Post, the founder and CEO of Topo Athletic, will remain the brand’s CEO and report to Designer Brands president Bill Jordan, according to a December press release.