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U.S. footwear manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide has announced the sale of assets associated with its U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contract business and the transfer of the related outstanding contracts to Tennessee-based footwear manufacturer, Original Footwear.
Effective from September 29, the sale also includes Wolverine Worldwide's Big Rapids site, which is one of the largest producers of footwear to the U.S. military. The Company says it has invested significantly in the Michigan-based factory through facility expansion and machinery over several years. Original Footwear is to become a footwear supplier to Wolverine Worldwide for certain products currently made in the Big Rapids factory. Wolverine is to retain the Bates brand and says it will continue to operate the Bates civilian and military exchange business.
Original specialises in products for the Department of Defense under the Altama brand. It also owns Original S.W.A.T, and Ro-Search brands. Original is said to qualify as a "small business" under the U.S. Small Business Administration regulations, which allows the company access to a significant number of contracts not available to "large" corporations such as Wolverine Worldwide.
"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," said Blake Krueger, Chairman, President and CEO, Wolverine. "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”, he added.