Wolverine Worldwide is bucking the trend. While fashion proceeds through M&As to vertically integrate the supply chain, the Rockford, Michigan-based company has started the process of divesting (also under licence) Wolverine Leathers. Meaning, the in-house leather supplier. Because it is a “low-profit” business, the company explained. Same fate for the brand Keds. “Wolverine Worldwide Leathers,” the website states, “is the world’s largest supplier of nubuck pigskin from North America and throughout Asia”.
30 million down
Wolverine owns several brands, including Saucony, Merrell and Sperry. It now plans to streamline its structure and prioritise the most profitable and growing brands. It also wants to reduce costs. While Fashion is moving forward with M&As, Wolverine started procedures to reduce staff associated with Keds and Wolverine Leathers to achieve savings of 30 million dollars in 2023.
As leatherbiz reports, the footwear group operated its own tannery in Rockford for a hundred years. Starting in the 1950s, it specialised in the production of nubuck leather from pigs’ raw hides. This tannery ceased production in 2009, but Wolverine Leathers remained a unit of the group, contracting the production and colouring of leathers in the USA, Vietnam, Thailand and China.
Staying agile and setting priorities
CEO Brendan Hoffman stated that recent structural changes and divestments will “lead the company to improve profitability, and restore Wolverine as a premier brand house”, as Footwear News reports. Hoffman believes that “agility is more important than ever” so “simplification and prioritisation are essential to achieving our goals”.