Wolverine World Wide making key growth moves

More Stride Rite shoe stores are closing as parent company Wolverine World Wide increases its focus on direct sales and improving the performance of lifestyle brands.

Wolverine announced two key hires to focus on the priority areas of direct-to-consumer and apparel and accessories. To more fully align and accelerate the company's consumer-direct operations and omnichannel transformation initiatives, Wolverine named Scott Sincerbeaux as president of consumer direct. He most recently served as vice president of North America Retail at Godiva Chocolate, but prior to that he held senior leadership positions with J.C. Penney, Bare Escentuals, Crabtree & Evelyn, Ecco and Brown Shoe.

As part of the move, Sincerbeaux gains oversight of the struggling Stride Rite childrens group where the company is escalating the closure of stores. More than a year ago, Wolverine announced a strategic realignment plan that called for the closure of 140 Stride Rite stores by the end of 2015. That figure was increased earlier this year when the company said it would close 175 Stride Rite stores, including 120 in 2015 and 55 others as leases expired during the next five years. The closure plan was further modified with the release of third quarter results when the company said it planned to close an additional 25 locations, for a revised total of 200, leaving it with a go forward store fleet of only 125 units.

With Sincerbeaux overseeing consumer direct and the Stride Rite business, Wolverine named Tom Kennedy to the newly created role president of apparel and accessories to oversee all aspects of the company’s global apparel and accessories business. He most recently served as executive vice president of the Fossil Brand with the Fossil Group. Prior to that he was a division president with PacSun and also worked at Nike and Gap.

Sincerbeaux and Kennedy both report directly to Blake Krueger, Wolverine president, chairman and CEO.

"We continue to focus and devote resources to accelerating our consumer-direct initiatives and building global lifestyle brands,” Krueger said. “Scott and Tom both add extensive and diverse experience to our team and deepen our already strong bench. They both have a strong consumer-centric background and will work to drive two of our most critical strategic growth initiatives as we continue to build our family of brands around the world."

Their appointments follow another major personnel move in November when Richie Woodworth was elevated to the role of president of the company’s Lifestyle Group which includes brands such as Sperry, Stride Rite, Keds and Hush Puppies. He previously led the company’s global efforts for the Saucony brand since 2006.