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In what company execs characterized as a bid to enhance product development and innovation, and a move to grow its apparel and accessories businesses, Wolverine World Wide made two executive appointments to its Outdoor Group this week.
Bill Dodge, formerly GM of the Rockford, Mich.-based company’s Patagonia brand, has been named VP of footwear product development. Dodge will be replaced by former national sales director Jaime Barbor. Mark Sandquist has joined the Outdoor Group as president of global apparel from Columbia Sportswear, where he served as VP of global apparel, equipment and licensing. Sandquist, who will eventually transition from Portland, Ore. to the Wolverine headquarters in Rockford, will oversee apparel, bags and belts. Both Dodge and Sandquist will report directly to Jim Zwiers, president of the Outdoor Group.
According to Zwiers, the Outdoor Group is focusing on three main categories, which is where the new appointments will be devoting their energies: connecting with consumers, raising brand awareness and product leadership and innovation. “With the acquisition of Chaco,” by Wolverine earlier this year, he said, “[we] believe this to be a compelling set of brand opportunities.”
In an interview on Friday, Sandquist told FN he would be focusing on growing the Merrell apparel business and coordinating the U.S. launch of Sebago (a fellow Wolverine brand) apparel, which is already established in Europe. He will also, he said, be evaluating potential for apparel, bags, and accessories in the Chaco line, although no plans are currently in the works. “There’s no baggage with any of [the brands],” he said. “We haven’t scratched the apparel surface yet [in terms of] opportunities and openings.” Zwiers said Sandquist’s appointment underscored the company’s commitment to expanding beyond footwear. “The apparel platform is critical, not just to the Outdoor Group, but to Wolverine in general,” he said. “[Now] we can enhance that third leg on the stool, and establish apparel as an initiative in general.”