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Designer Brands acquires Keds brand from Wolverine Worldwide

By Prachi Singh


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Image: Keds, Facebook

Designer Brands Inc. has completed the acquisition of Keds from Wolverine Worldwide.

"Our growing strength in owned Brands is evident, given that just twelve months ago, the athleisure category was a massive white space opportunity for us, and we now control high-quality brands across multiple price points," said Doug Howe, incoming chief executive officer and President of DSW.

Designer Brands acquires Keds

The announced transaction includes all Keds' products, including Pro-Keds, as well as the brand's large ecommerce business. This expands Designer Brands' owned brands' reach into casual and athleisure footwear in the direct-to-consumer and wholesale channels, supplementing the recent additions of Le Tigre and Topo Athletic. This acquisition also marks Designer Brands' first owned brand wholesale business within the kids footwear segment.

"Our acquisition of Keds, which has an important presence in the athleisure space, is particularly exciting as it is an iconic brand with broad appeal for our customers and their families that gives us the potential to explore new opportunities both online and internationally," Howe added.

Keds is an iconic brand for women, men and kids alike, with a legacy of being versatile, comfortable and fashionable. From a place in the wardrobes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, to a central role in the 1980s classic movie, Dirty Dancing, the company said in a release, Keds has been at the centre of cultural conversation for decades.

Designer Brands to become exclusive licensee for Hush Puppies brand

Designer Brands also announced that the company is working to finalise an agreement to become the exclusive licensee for the Hush Puppies brand in the US and Canada.

Designer Brands currently has a unique arrangement with Wolverine that began in 2022, naming DSW as the exclusive in-store distributor of Hush Puppies in the United States, while also serving as a physical return centre for HushPuppies.com customers.

This new licensee relationship, the company added, will grant exclusivity of the Hush Puppies brand to Designer Brands across all channels in the US and Canada including potential wholesaling of the brand and management of the HushPuppies.com DTC business. The licensing agreement is targeted to take effect later in 2023.

"Today's announcements serve as proof of both the incredible progress we have made on our strategy to double sales of our owned brands by 2026 as well as the ongoing benefits of our relationships with top national brands," said Roger Rawlins, the company’s chief executive officer.

Solomon Partners served as financial advisor, and Thompson Hine LLP served as legal advisor to Designer Brands. Honigman LLP and Warner, Norcross + Judd LLP served as legal advisors to Wolverine Worldwide.

Designer Brands
Wolverine Worldwide