Merrell to Develop Premium Enviro-Friendly Footwear Under Patagonia Brands; Global Distribution Will Be Top-Tier Specialty Stores and Patagonia's Distribution Network.
Patagonia, Inc. and Wolverine World Wide, Inc.'s Merrell footwear brand, two of the most respected brands in the outdoor industry, announced today they have entered into a long-term global license agreement to produce Patagonia footwear. The first product line is expected at retail in spring 2007. Under the agreement, Merrell, a leader in outdoor performance footwear, will design, manufacture and market performance footwear under the prestigious Patagonia name with rights to other Patagonia brands including Water Girl, clothing and swimwear for women, and Lotus Designs, white-water paddling gear. Consumers will find the new footwear line in over 32 Patagonia stores in the U.S., Europe and Japan, in Patagonia's distribution network, and in premium footwear and outdoor specialty stores.
Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia's vice president of marketing and environmental initiatives, noted, “A significant license deal between two companies is not unlike a marriage. You do your homework – do you both see eye-to-eye on not just the fundamentals, but on the fine points of your philosophies? But at the end of the day, as St. Thomas Aquinas put it, you have to trust the authority of your instincts, and here at Patagonia we all feel that we've created a marriage that's going to be both fruitful and long-lived.”
Patagonia is a world leader in the design and marketing of performance and lifestyle outerwear and apparel. For more than 30 years, the company has pioneered the development of environmentally-conscious and innovative outdoor performance products and manufacturing techniques.
The same environmental sensitivity found at Patagonia headquarters will be incorporated into the new Patagonia footwear line, allowing Patagonia to stay true to its mission statement of making the best product, causing the least amount of harm and using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Merrell is the global reference brand for outdoor performance footwear and its innovative products are designed to perform for all who embrace the outdoor lifestyle. Currently, Merrell is marketed in over 135 countries around the world.
“Merrell and Patagonia are kindred spirits in a rapidly changing world,” said Jacques Lavertue, president of Wolverine's Outdoor Group. “For many years, Patagonia and Merrell have shared the same space in the hearts and minds of true outdoor enthusiasts around the globe. We have great respect for Patagonia's position as a true leader and innovator in technical outdoor apparel, and its long time commitment to the environment. While technically this is a licensing agreement, both management teams view this as the beginning of a long-term partnership. We are pleased that Patagonia footwear has found a home in Wolverine World Wide's Outdoor Group.”
Commenting on the announcement, Michael Crooke, president and CEO, said, “Patagonia is a brand that is focused on what we love to do — outdoor activities that entail some risk, while requiring soul and inviting reflection. Footwear that bears our brand names must have that same spirit and commitment. Wolverine World Wide and Merrell are a natural fit with us. We take great comfort in knowing that this established, international footwear company shares our philosophy. We view this license as an opportunity to partner with Merrell, the design leader in outdoor footwear, and to build our global Patagonia business.”
Tim O'Donovan, chairman and chief executive officer of Wolverine, said, “This is an exceptional opportunity for Wolverine. We look forward to joining forces with the talented Patagonia team and anticipate that both parties will benefit from this long term partnership. We are particularly interested in the opportunities to adopt and mirror many of the environmentally conscious activities Patagonia has developed and sustained over the past several decades. In particular, I am proud to announce that Wolverine World Wide will be participating in '1% For The Planet,' an organization co-founded by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. Under this program, Wolverine World Wide will contribute 1% of sales of Patagonia footwear to environmental organizations. With the anticipated success of this joint initiative, we believe these contributions will have a significant impact in safeguarding and improving the environment.”
Patagonia, with sales last year of $240M, is noted internationally for its commitment to product quality and environmental activism. In the last year, the company has donated 2.7 percent of sales for grassroots environmental activism and wildlands procurement and protection. Environmental Grants Program has contributed over $20M to grassroots environmental activists since the program began in 1985, and its Environmental Internship Program allows employees to work for environmental groups while receiving their full paycheck. Incorporating environmental responsibility into product development, the company has, since 1996, used only organically-grown cotton in its clothing line, and is noted world-wide for using recycled soda bottles in many of its polyester fleece garments. Known for a unique corporate culture, the company has been recognized for many years by Working Mother magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers,” and is a regular recipient of recognition by Fortune and Human Resources Management magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.” For more information, check out Patagonia's website at http://www.patagonia.com .
About Wolverine World Wide, Inc.: With a commitment to service and product excellence, Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) is one of the world's leading marketers of casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, after- sport, and uniform footwear. Merrell is the leading brand in the Company's Outdoor Group, headquartered in Rockford, Mich. The Company's products are carried by leading retailers in the United States and are distributed internationally in more than 140 countries. For additional information, please visit on the Internet at http://www.merrell.com or http://www.wolverineworldwide.com .
About 1% For The Planet:
1% For The Planet is an alliance of businesses committed to leveraging their resources to create a healthier planet. Members recognize their responsibility to and dependence on a healthy environment and donate at least 1% of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. The alliance aims to prove that taking environmental responsibility is good for business. For additional information, please visit 1%'s website at http://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org .
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including those relating to the Patagonia footwear license and the expected business operations, sales and duration. In addition, words such as “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “should,” “will,” 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. Therefore, actual results and outcomes may materially differ from what may be expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. Risk Factors include, among others: changes in consumer preferences or spending patterns; cancellation of future orders; cost and availability of inventories; reliance on foreign sourcing; the impact of competition and pricing; integration and operations of newly acquired businesses and licenses; retail buying patterns; consolidation in the retail sector; changes in economic and market conditions; acts and effects of war and terrorism; and additional factors discussed in the Company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and exhibits thereto. Other Risk Factors exist, and new Risk Factors emerge from time to time that 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.