Skip to main content

Parent company of Famous Footwear names new CEO

Jay Schmidt and Diane Sullivan
Jay Schmidt will succeed Diane Sullivan as CEO of Caleres (Photo: Business Wire)

There’s going to be a changing of the guard at Caleres come the new year.

The footwear giant, whose brands include Famous Footwear, Naturalizer, LifeStride, Allen Edmonds and more, said that  Diane Sullivan will retire as CEO January 15, 2023, and will assume the role of executive chairman. Jay Schmidt, president of Caleres, will succeed Sullivan as CEO in what the company called “a long-scheduled and carefully planned succession process.”

Schmidt was named president of Caleres in December 2020. Prior to that, he was division president, Caleres brand portfolio. Before joining the company in 2010, he spent 10 years at Nine West Group. He also had positions of increasing responsibility with Lord & Taylor, May Merchandising Corp. and Macy’s.

“I am highly confident that Jay is the ideal person to succeed me as CEO,” Sullivan said. He is a consummate merchant and has been instrumental in the evolution and success of the company’s portfolio of brands. He has built an impressive track record of operational and financial accomplishments during his tenure. His deep understanding of our industry, tremendous knowledge of our company and his ability to translate ambition into action will be invaluable in accelerating improving results.”

Sullivan joined Caleres as president in 2004, and was named CEO in 2011, with the title of executive chairman added in 2014.  She is credited with evolving the company’s portfolio,  including leading the acquisition and incubation of numerous brands including Sam Edelman, Allen Edmonds and Vionic. Caleres earnings per share increased six-fold during her tenure as CEO, according to the retailer.

As executive chairman, Sullivan will continue to lead the Caleres board as well as partner with Schmidt and the rest of the Caleres leadership team on key strategic initiatives.

“Diane transformed Caleres from a company that sells shoes to one that builds brands and connects with consumers while at the same time markedly changing the financial performance of the company,” said Ward Klein, lead independent director of Caleres. “The board is delighted that she has agreed to accept the new executive chair role, where she can continue to use her strategic abilities and vast industry knowledge to help lead the company forward.”

Caleres operates nearly 1,000 stores. Its products are also available in hundreds of major department and specialty stores, on our branded e-commerce sites, and on many additional third-party retail websites.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds