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Wolverine World Wide Partners With Leading Chinese Sportswear Retailer to Grow Merrell and Saucony in Mainland China
Joint venture leverages the retail and product expertise of Xtep International Holdings Limited

ROCKFORD, Mich., March 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) today announced the Company has entered into a joint venture agreement with Xtep International Holdings Limited (SEHK: 1368), a leading Chinese sportswear retailer, to develop, market and distribute Merrell® and Saucony® products in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. This is an important element of Wolverine’s near-term plan to make strategic investments in key international markets. The joint venture is expected to begin operating in the back half of 2019.

Xtep is a powerful vertical player in the fast-growing sportswear market, with over 6,200 stores in 31 provinces and municipalities across China, including a strong network of distributors and shopping mall operators. The joint venture plans to open new stores under the Merrell and Saucony banners, with the majority slated for shopping malls in China’s larger cities, coupled with an increasing presence for these brands in Hong Kong and Macau.

“Wolverine is extremely pleased to partner with Xtep to accelerate the growth of two of our best-known global brands – Saucony and Merrell – in the critical markets of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau,” said Blake W. Krueger, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Wolverine. “We have seen incredible sportswear growth in these markets, and our brands are now poised to excel as we engage Xtep’s significant retail presence and regional expertise to tap into the booming running and outdoor sectors.”

Mr. Ding Shui Po, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Xtep, commented “Over the years, Xtep has been committed to providing fashionable, high-performance sports products to consumers in pursuit of our mission to become a multi-brand portfolio group capable of satisfying different customers’ needs. We are delighted to have Wolverine, a global company with a portfolio of premium brands, as our partner. We look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder with them to seize the numerous business opportunities we see in these key Asian markets. Leveraging the combined resources and strengths of both Xtep and Wolverine, we expect the joint venture will reach a large group of sophisticated customers.”

With a commitment to service and product excellence, Wolverine World Wide, Inc. is one of the world’s leading marketers and licensors of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children’s and uniform footwear and apparel. The Company’s portfolio of highly recognized brands includes: Merrell®, Sperry®, Hush Puppies®, Saucony®, Wolverine®, Keds®, Stride Rite®, Chaco®, Bates®, HYTEST®, and Soft Style®. The Company also is the global footwear licensee of the popular brands Cat® and Harley-Davidson®. The Company’s products are carried by leading retailers in the U.S. and globally in approximately 200 countries and territories. For additional information, please visit our website,

Xtep International Holdings Limited (SEHK stock code: 1368) is a leading PRC-based professional sports brand with over 15 years of history, listed on 3 June 2008 on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Xtep is principally engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, sales and marketing, and brand management of sports products, including footwear, apparel and accessories. It boasts an extensive distribution network of over 6,200 stores nationwide covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the PRC. Xtep is a constituent of MSCI China Small Cap Index, Hang Seng Composite Index Series and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect. For more information, please visit Xtep’s corporate website: or scan the Group’s Wechat QR code below (or search by: xtepholdings or 特步控股).

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding: the Company’s ability to commence joint venture operations by a certain date; open retail stores at certain locations within China; invest in growth and international growth initiatives, leverage skillsets of strategic partners; and successfully execute key strategic initiatives. In addition, words such as "guidance," "estimates," "anticipates," "believes," "forecasts," "step," "plans," "predicts," "focused," "projects," "outlook," "is likely," "expects," "intends," "should," "will," "confident," variations of such words, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance, and involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions ("Risk Factors") that are difficult to predict with regard to timing, extent, likelihood, and degree of occurrence. Risk Factors include, among others: changes in general economic conditions, employment rates, business conditions, interest rates, tax policies and other factors affecting consumer spending in the markets and regions in which the Company’s products are sold; the inability for any reason to effectively compete in global footwear, apparel and consumer-direct markets; the inability to maintain positive brand images and anticipate, understand and respond to changing footwear and apparel trends and consumer preferences; the inability to effectively manage inventory levels; increases or changes in duties, tariffs, quotas or applicable assessments in countries of import and export; foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations; currency restrictions; capacity constraints, production disruptions, quality issues, price increases or other risks associated with foreign sourcing; the cost and availability of raw materials, inventories, services and labor for contract manufacturers; labor disruptions; changes in relationships with, including the loss of, significant wholesale customers; risks related to the significant investment in, and performance of, the Company’s consumer-direct operations; risks related to expansion into new markets and complementary product categories as well as consumer-direct operations; the impact of seasonality and unpredictable weather conditions; changes in general economic conditions and/or the credit markets on the Company’s distributors, suppliers and customers; increase in the Company’s effective tax rates; failure of licensees or distributors to meet planned annual sales goals or to make timely payments to the Company; the risks of doing business in developing countries, and politically or economically volatile areas; the ability to secure and protect owned intellectual property or use licensed intellectual property; the impact of regulation, regulatory and legal proceedings and legal compliance risks, including compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, environmental remediation and other related costs, and litigation or other legal proceedings relating to the protection of the environment or environmental effects on human health; the potential breach of the Company’s databases, or those of its vendors, which contain certain personal information or payment card data; problems affecting the Company’s distribution system, including service interruptions at shipping and receiving ports; strategic actions, including new initiatives and ventures, acquisitions and dispositions, and the Company’s success in integrating acquired businesses, and implementing new initiatives and ventures; the risk of impairment to goodwill and other acquired intangibles; the success of the Company’s consumer-direct realignment initiatives; changes in future pension funding requirements and pension expenses; and additional factors discussed in the Company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and exhibits thereto. The foregoing Risk Factors, as well as other existing Risk Factors and new Risk Factors that emerge from time to time, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Given these risks and uncertainties, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a prediction of actual results. Furthermore, the Company undertakes no obligation to update, amend, or clarify forward-looking statements.

Michael D. Stornant

(616) 866-5728

Source: Wolverine World Wide