Wolverine Sells Keds to DSW Parent Designer Brands

Wolverine Worldwide Faces Excess Inventory

Footwear company Wolverine Worldwide has sold its Keds line to shore store chain Designer Brands.

The deal, announced Wednesday (Feb. 8), allows Wolverine to streamline its portfolio, while helping Designer Brands (DBI) in its strategy of increasing sales through its own brands.

In addition to the Keds sale, Wolverine said in a press release it also plans to give DBI an exclusive license for Hush Puppies footwear in the U.S. and Canada. DBI’s DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) stores have been the exclusive retail partner for Hush Puppies since 2022.

Wolverine President and CEO Brendan Hoffman said in the release the two transactions will generate $90 million and put the company “on an accelerated path to improved profitability and long-term shareholder value creation.”

DBI, meanwhile, said in the release the deal gives it access to an “iconic” brand, with that company’s announcement pointing to Keds’ storied history, worn by Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, and featured in the movie “Dirty Dancing.”

Doug Howe, incoming CEO and president of DSW, said the shoes carry a broad appeal that gives the company the potential to seek out new opportunities in eCommerce and international sales.

“Our growing strength in owned brands is evident, given that just 12 months ago, the athleisure category was a massive white space opportunity for us, and we now control high-quality brands across multiple price points,” he said in the release.

As PYMNTS noted in September, DBI has for the past few years increased its margins by producing goods and selling them through other retailers, along with its own online and brick-and-mortar stores.

“We get to buy it at cost and sell it at retail, and control the distribution,” Chief Financial Officer Jared Poff said at the time.

In addition to the Hush Puppies agreement, DBI has, in recent years, purchased Camuto Group and invested in Le Tigre 360 Global in a deal that includes footwear licensing rights.

Wolverine, meanwhile, reported that revenue and profit came in below expectations in its most recent earnings report, as PYMNTS reported in November.

“We are facing congestion in our own U.S. distribution centers and inland transportation networks, and many wholesale customers are currently dealing with heavier inventories and warehouse constraints,” Hoffman said at the time.

The company is set to release its next quarterly earnings Feb. 23.

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