NIKE, Inc. has named Lisa Kempa as president of its Exeter Brands Group. Kempa previously was chief financial officer of Converse, also owned by Nike. She will continue reporting to Converse CEO Jack Boys, and will establish a close working relationship with Converse to tap expertise and resources that will support Exeter’s growth.

“We’re extremely excited about the growth opportunities for Exeter Brands in the value retail channel as we expand the selection and distribution of Starter performance athletic footwear designed and developed by the Exeter team,” said Nike CEO Bill Perez. “Putting Exeter under the leadership of Lisa Kempa and creating a strong link to the expertise and resources at Converse enables us to accelerate growth and competitively leverage the strengths of the Nike Inc. portfolio.”

Kempa, 37, joined Converse in 2001 as part of the four-person management team that engineered the purchase of Converse assets from bankruptcy and helped restore the brand. Following Nike’s acquisition of Converse in 2003, Kempa helped lead the integration process. Prior to Converse, Kempa worked in strategic and financial planning for The North Face Inc., and for Deloitte & Touche.

“The value retail channel is the largest and fastest-growing segment of the retail industry,” Kempa said. “Exeter is committed to providing value retail customers with premium athletic footwear and apparel. I’m excited to join the Exeter team and help realize our growth opportunities with the support of Converse and Nike.”

Kempa succeeds Mary Gleason, who was named head of Exeter Brands Group in August 2004 when Nike formed the company after purchasing Official Starter Properties LLC and Official Starter LLC from a group of investors. Group 3 Design, a brand management company Gleason founded and was running at the time, successfully re-launched, managed and marketed the Starter brands under license agreements from 2000 until the purchase by Nike in 2004.

“It’s been a tremendous experience for me to help Nike create Exeter Brands and begin building a strong foundation for growth,” Gleason said. “With the initial transition completed sooner than expected, now is the right time for me to return to developing new brand opportunities.”

Perez thanked Gleason “for her contributions in helping Nike to create Exeter and build the business over the past year.”

Exeter Brands Group includes the Starter, Team Starter and Asphalt brand names, and also is the master licensee of the Shaq and Dunkman brands. The brands are distributed at major value retailers in the United States and Europe through a direct Exeter business model and license agreements.

Over the past year, Exeter has grown its product line under the Starter brand and has expanded its capabilities to serve the value retail channel. In addition to licensed product, Exeter’s new lines of footwear and apparel are being created by in-house product design and development teams, led by Todd Blumenthal, vice president and general manager of product and design. Blumenthal joined Exeter from Nike, where he most recently was global merchandising director for Nike footwear.

Working closely with Kempa, Blumenthal will continue to lead development of Exeter’s product vision and creative direction, leveraging Nike Inc.’s resources and capabilities. “We will continue to focus our product creation efforts on premium product for the value retailer, product that enhances our brands while delivering form and function to the consumer,” Blumenthal said.

In March 2005, Exeter launched at Wal-Mart a new line of Starter performance footwear featuring the mechanically engineered Starter O-Flex cushioning system. The footwear line, with suggested retail prices under $40, is endorsed by legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre. The line is available in more than 400 Wal-Mart locations nationwide. An expanded product line with broader distribution will be introduced for Spring 2006.

In addition to the leadership and experience Kempa brings to Exeter, a closer working relationship with Converse will enable Exeter to better leverage the infrastructure and capabilities Converse already has in place to serve retailers in the United States and internationally. Converse has strong operational capabilities in sourcing, supply chain and logistics. This infrastructure complements Exeter’s growing product design and development capabilities, as well as its ongoing product development and marketing support from Nike. These resources offer competitive advantages for Exeter in growing its wholesale product lines and distribution while also continuing to manage its licensed business.