Brendan Hoffman is back in the corner office at the end of the year, taking over as CEO of Wolverine Worldwide.
Hoffman, 52, joined Wolverine as president and CEO in September and will take the reins from Blake Krueger, who is limiting his 14-year run as CEO by becoming CEO.
The post – on top of a branded power plant that is in the midst of the transition from a wholesale-heavy model to one with a stronger direct to consumer focus – will let Hoffman draw on its diverse background. Prior to Wolverine, he was CEO of the listed Vince Holding Corp. and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. as well as CEO of Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus Direct, where he grew neimanmarcus.com and launched bergdorfgoodman.com in the early days of online.
It’s a resume that includes something retail, something wholesale, something digital – and he will be able to spend it all on Wolverine, which expects to log sales of over $ 2.2 billion this year and counts Merrell, Saucony, Sperry, Hush Puppies and Wolverine among its brands.
While most of the consumer world revolved around digital during the pandemic, Hoffman said Wolverine was already in d-to-c mode when he teamed up with Krueger just before the US shutdown began in March 2020.
“I was pleased to have that discussion with Blake and some of the board members before the pandemic,” Hoffman said in a joint interview with Krueger. “They had thought about this and started the process and recognized the need to pick someone up from outside. It’s nice that it’s not the new guy coming in and saying, ‘these are the changes we needed.’ Blake has already plowed that field. I’m really ready for success here. ”
The timing of the legacy is set just as employees return to the company’s headquarters in Rockford, Michigan and new focus on the future, which is beginning to come into focus in the United States as vaccinations help people return from their homes to settle into new routines.
Hoffman has seen rapid and furious changes online – Instagram was not founded until two years after he left Neiman Marcus – but the development was supercharged even more during the pandemic.
Now the online world is charging to unknown points and even faster as the next generation of consumers comes into its own. “We do not know where they are going,” he said. “We have to be prepared for them to take us where they are going and to be there very quickly.”
To respond quickly and follow the younger generation, Wolverine is investing in people, artificial intelligence, IT systems and potential acquisitions.
And Hoffman seems to be pretty wide-open when it comes to wheels and trade.
He said Wolverine’s hunt would be informed by “what can expand this company, whether it’s different categories, such as clothing, that we can speed up getting into [or by adding] digital capabilities and a more digital original brand. “The company could also look at expanding its global base.
Wolverine is already a deal maker.
Krueger led the company’s acquisitions of Merrell, Saucony, Sperry, Stride Rite, Keds and Chaco and expanded its distribution to more than 170 countries.
The outgoing CEO said Hoffman brought the right experiences and was a great fit for the company as it looks to its next growth chapter.
“We needed someone with that kind of cultural carp diem,” Krueger said.
When he came to Wolverine in 1993, when the company was under financial stress and needed help.
Looking back on his time as CEO, Krueger said he wanted him to move a little faster on some things.
And speed is something he thinks a lot about him now.
He outlined the changes that transformed the consumer on technology.
“This is a strength that the consumer never really asked for, but it was placed in the hands of consumers,” he said. In today’s world, you must be ready to have a dialogue with your consumer, interact with your consumer whenever they want. It requires different opportunities, a new set of skills. It’s about agility, and it’s about being closer to your consumer.
“The relay will be transferred at an appropriate time,” Krueger said of the change of CEO. “Our brands have a lot of momentum right now, and we are a bit on the way. The company will be in good hands and I will be around to continue to give a little bit of advice. ”
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