For the first three quarters, revenue reached $606.1 million and earnings per share rose to 81 cents.
While the Merrell brand continues to be the major growth driver, President and CEO Timothy O’Donovan said the company’s other footwear businesses made major contributions, as well.
“With the exception of Caterpillar footwear, all of our major footwear groups achieved improved sales in the quarter and all of the footwear groups reported improved earnings,” he said.
The Merrell business had another strong quarter, with sales up into the teens, O’Donovan said. The largest sales increases were in continental Europe, where the business more than doubled in the first three quarters of this year, compared to the first nine months of 2002.
Merrell’s growing position in the sports fashion segment of the footwear market is helping to drive the international business and the opening of premier distribution channels among the “who’s who” of European sport specialty and outdoor specialty stores, he said.
O’Donovan said Merrell is off to a strong start for the fall and is on track to meet its 2003 sales goal of a 15 percent revenue increase.
In the U.S. market the Merrell Shop-In-Shop rollout continues with 38 shops now open and another 22 scheduled for the fourth quarter.
Hush Puppies sales for the quarter were up by single digits, with gains in both the U.S. and international markets. The Hush Puppies women’s business has been “very encouraging,” particularly in the better department stores, and consumer reaction to Hush Puppies’ new contemporary casual collection in test stores has been strong, O’Donovan said.
The Wolverine Footwear Group had low single-digit increases in sales in the core business and double-digit increases in both the Bates Uniform and Harley Davidson businesses. CAT brand order backlogs for fourth quarter delivery are up, O’Donovan said.
O’Donovan noted that outdoor sports shoe shipments increased 20 percent in the quarter.
Wolverine also is entering the fourth quarter with a 5.5 percent increase in order backlog.
The company has launched a major print and TV advertising campaign for fall, promoting Wolverine’s core work footwear products in September and October and its sports footwear in October and November.
Footwear News recently ranked Wolverine Boots and Shoes as the fourth largest footwear advertiser in the non-athletic footwear category.
“Based on our results for the first three quarters, our current backlog, and the expected level of reorders, we feel good about our prospects of achieving our 2003 plan, which calls for sales of $875 million to $885 million and earnings per share of 1.21 to $1.24,” O’Donovan said.