July 22, 2014, 10:27 AM

Stride Rite: disappearing from a mall near you and investing in the web

The owner of the shoe brand says it will close 140 stores—mostly Stride Rite brand—in the next 18 months to focus on e-commerce. The company also operates the Hush Puppies, Keds, Sperry Top-Sider and Patagonia brands.

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Wolverine World Wide Inc., the owner of the Stride Rite brand of shoes, announced last week it will close up to 140 stores in the next 18 months, and invest much of the savings in e-commerce. Wolverine World Wide sells footwear from 18 brands that it owns or licenses, including Hush Puppies, Keds, Merrell, Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony and Patagonia. The company said most of the stores on the chopping block are Stride Rite, though it did not disclose specifically which stores would close.

The announcement came during a conference call with investors after the company released its second quarter 2014 earnings. “Consumers have embraced the ease and convenience of online shopping, a trend that has only accelerated for the last several quarters,” said Blake Krueger, the chairman, president and CEO of Wolverine World Wide on the conference call. “Today’s consumers demand a sophisticated omnichannel shopping experience and have the available technology to make informed shopping and purchasing decisions. As a company, it is paramount that we evolve to meet and exceed the needs and demands of this new consumer.”

Of the 140 stores, 60 will close in fiscal 2014, and the rest will close in fiscal 2015. The company estimates closing the stores will cost $30 to $37 million, but the company will save $11 million each year. “We anticipate reinvesting much of this benefit into e-commerce, mobile, and other omnichannel capabilities and opportunities intended to enable our consumers to engage with our brands anywhere anytime,” Krueger said.

Wolverine World Wide is No. 240 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, recording an estimated $85.2 million in 2013 web sales. Wolverine promoted in August 2013 Jodi K. Watson from vice president of e-commerce to president, consumer direct.

For the second quarter, which ended June 14, Wolverine reported:

  • Overall revenue hit $613.5 million, an increase of 4.4% from $ 587.8 million in the second quarter in 2013.
  • Sales of the Lifestyle group, which includes Sperry Top-Sider, Hush Puppies, Keds and the Stride Rite Children's Group, grew 3.5% over the same quarter in 2013, from $255.2 million to $264.1 million.
  • Revenue for the Performance group, which includes Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Cushe and Patagonia Footwear, increased 5.8% from $199.7 million in Q2 2013 to $211.2 million in Q2 2014.
  • Revenue for the Heritage group, which includes Wolverine Cat Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest, increased 2.6% to $113.5 million in Q2 2014 from $110.6 million in Q2 2013.
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