Wolverine says the sale is part of the companys ongoing effort to "improve near-term performance while building a foundation for the future"

Wolverine says the sale is part of the company's ongoing effort to "improve near-term performance while building a foundation for the future"

Military boot and shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide has sold assets associated with its United States Department of Defense (DoD) contract business and its Big Rapids, Michigan, factory to Original Footwear.

Wolverine says the sale is part of the company's ongoing effort to "improve near-term performance while building a foundation for the future".

The divesture, which will also see the transfer of outstanding DoD contracts to Original Footwear, was effective on Friday (29 September).

Original is a Tennessee-based footwear manufacturer specialising in products for the DoD under the Altama brand. The company also owns Original S.W.A.T, and Ro-Searchbrands.

According to Wolverine, the sale will improve the future viability of the Big Rapids factory operations. Original qualifies as a "small business" under Small Business Administration regulations, which allows the company access to a significant number of contracts not available to "large" corporations like Wolverine Worldwide.

Over the last several years, Wolverine has invested significantly in the Big Rapids factory, which is one of the largest producers of footwear to the United States military, and its future, through facility expansion and machinery. Last year, the company invested an estimated US$1m to add a 16,000 square foot expansion to the facility, including a new raw materials receiving warehouse.

Wolverine Worldwide to expand footwear facility

Now, Original Footwear will become a footwear supplier to Wolverine Worldwide for certain products currently made in the Big Rapids factory. Wolverine will retain the Bates brand and will continue to operate the Bates civilian and military exchange business.

"The sale to Original Footwear will provide the opportunity for the Big Rapids factory to compete for Department of Defense contracts set aside for small businesses," says Wolverine CEO Blake Krueger. "We firmly believe that the sale of the Big Rapids factory and the DoD business to Original Footwear is in the best interest of the Big Rapids operations. With new ownership, we feel the factory is better positioned to win additional contracts that will retain important manufacturing jobs for the community."

Wolverine adds, it continues to make "significant progress" toward its Wolverine Way Forward strategic transformation, the details of which were first unveiled at the end of last year.

The "comprehensive strategic platform" is designed to drive growth and expand profitability, and is made up of the company's most important strategic initiatives, including speed and agility, a healthier supply chain, increased investment in e-commerce, efforts to streamline the organisation, actions to improve the company's capital structure, and strategic alternatives for several brands including divestiture.

New innovation hub to boost Wolverine speed to market

In August, Wolverine sold its Sebago footwear brand as part of the group's plans to grow the business under the strategy.

Wolverine offloads Sebago brand amid strategic review