Wolverine Sees New Round of Layoffs as It Looks to Further ‘Streamline’

Wolverine Worldwide is accelerating its transformation plan as it looks to “streamline” the organization.

As part of this plan, the Rockford, Mich.-based footwear company on Thursday revealed a new global workforce reduction and organizational redesign.

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While Wolverine has not disclosed the number of employees affected by this move, the company said in a press release that these reductions are part of group of initiatives that are expected to deliver $215 million in annualized savings.

When contacted by FN, a Wolverine representative declined to provide further information about who or what areas of the business might be impacted.

Chris Hufnagel, president and CEO of Wolverine Worldwide, said in a statement that the company is committed to taking the “necessary actions” to best position the company for future profitable growth. “Decisions like these that affect our team are difficult, and we are committed to supporting each team member through this transition,” Hufnagel said.

The CEO added that the company is moving with “speed and urgency” to transform to enable it to capitalize on its biggest growth opportunities. “We are taking decisive steps to stabilize the business by divesting non-core assets, paying down debt, reducing inventory, and right-sizing our cost structure,” Hufnagel said. “At the same time, we are redesigning the organization to become great global brand builders.”

Other key changes include developing a new “strategic center of excellence” called “The Collective” that involves a reimagined innovation, insights, and trends team; an internal creative and public relations team; and an in-house creative production studio.

The company is also implementing a global licensing function to “unlock the portfolio’s full commercial opportunity “around the world. This team will oversee and manage all the company’s licensed businesses, including Hush Puppies and Stride Rite, along with apparel and accessories programs.

There’s also a new global planning function designed to “meaningfully improve” integrated demand, inventory, and supply chain management, while enhancing the company’s ability to respond to shifts in consumer and market dynamics. And there’s a new set of advanced digital product management, design, and development tools which will further enhance the company’s product capabilities and efficiencies.

Finally, Wolverine is consolidating its North American commercial structure, aligning the company’s Canadian operations with those in the United States to drive efficiency and alignment.

The actions announced on Thursday follow the company’s recent sale of Keds, the Hush Puppies intellectual property in China, Hong Kong, and Macau, the sale of its North American Wolverine Leathers business and the company’s announcement that it is pursuing strategic alternatives for the Sperry brand.

Other costs reductions came in August, when Wolverine announced it would close its Boston headquarters by the end of the year. Wolverine’s Boston office housed the company’s Sperry, Saucony and Keds brands since it acquired them in 2012, as well as its Kids Group.

In December 2022, Wolverine began laying off an undisclosed number of workers. And in March, the company said it was preparing to lay off employees in its Sweaty Betty brand and announced other changes to improve the business, such as consolidating office space in London and having Sweaty Betty report into the company’s London-based International Group, which oversees business outside the U.S. and is headed up by Isabel Soriano.

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