Wolverine Worldwide Inc.  announced it has agreed to enter into a global, multi-year licensing agreement of the Stride Rite brand to Vida Shoes International.

The license agreement and the newly created Wolverine Children’s Group, which will focus on the growing children’s business for the company’s portfolio of brands, are the next steps in the company’s WAY FORWARD strategic transformation aimed at enhancing the company’s consumer obsession, product innovation and financial performance in the near and long term. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

Under the agreement, Vida Shoes International will become the global Stride Rite brand licensee for footwear and other products, subject to existing licenses, and will design, develop and market innovative children’s products under the iconic Stride Rite brand. Vida Shoes International is a leader in the children’s footwear and fashion industry and plans to begin operations in July to grow the Stride Rite brand and to service and support the strong global base of Stride Rite retailers and distributors. The license will allow the Stride Rite brand to continue to expand and flourish and allow Wolverine to focus on the global potential of its portfolio of performance and lifestyle brands.

“Wolverine has a long history of working with great partners to license and distribute our brands around the world,” commented Blake Krueger, Wolverine’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Stride Rite is an iconic, premium children’s footwear brand and this global partnership is the next stage in Stride Rite’s nearly century-long history. Vida Shoes International shares our mission to design products that kids love, while offering parents fashionable and functional options for their children. We’re confident they will be a great partner for Wolverine Worldwide and our Stride Rite brand.”

The company also announced the creation of the Wolverine Children’s Group to develop and grow the children’s category for its portfolio of brands including Merrell, Sperry, Saucony, Hush Puppies and Keds. To lead this effort, the company has hired Bornie Del Priore as vice president and general manager of the Wolverine Children’s Group. Del Priore has a strong leadership background and track record of growing global brands. She joins Wolverine Worldwide following senior leadership positions at Tommy Bahama Footwear, Tommy Hilfiger USA, Tommy Hilfiger Footwear and Ralph Lauren Footwear. Ms. Del Priore and the Wolverine Children’s Group will report to Richie Woodworth, and will be able to lever Wolverine’s significant global expertise in product, marketing, and distribution.

Krueger concluded, “Today’s announcement is evidence of the tremendous progress we are continuing to make on our WOLVERINE WAY FORWARD transformation – to position the company to drive deeper consumer connections, accelerate the global growth of our brands, and ultimately, deliver greater shareholder value.”

Photo courtesy Stride Rite