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Caleres Puts Execs in Place for Digital, Consumer-First Push

Caleres is reshuffling its leadership deck to serve a digitally led, consumer-first organization.

A little under two weeks after promoting Michael Edwards to president of Famous Footwear, Caleres revealed a wave of organizational and leadership changes Wednesday, including the elevation of Jay Schmidt to company president.

The transition combines its operating divisions under a “unified structure for growth,” the footwear stalwart said. The changes, it added, aim to strengthen consumer engagement, expand consumer insights, advance robust brand goals and awareness, harness creativity and further innovation.

“This transformation will drive a renewed, consumer-focused approach that will combine the knowhow of our internal resources with the fresh ideas of new industry talent and draw on the strengths of our entire portfolio in the most efficient and value-creating way possible,” Diane Sullivan, chairman and CEO of Caleres, said in a statement.

Schmidt, who was named company president effective immediately, assumed responsibility for all of the consumer and brand strategy for Caleres’ entire portfolio, which includes Famous Footwear, Allen Edmonds, Dr. Scholl’s, Naturalizer, Sam Edelman and Vionic, among others. Most recently, he held the position of division president, Caleres Brand Portfolio. Prior to joining the company, he spent more than 25 years working in merchandising, portfolio management and brand marketing, including a decade at Nine West Group.

“Jay is a strategic and innovative leader, merchant at his core, cultural steward, and the ideal person to step into the president’s role,” Sullivan added. “He is one of a few people who can combine his extensive expertise with his strong vision around product creation and brand development, all while keeping the customer at the very center of his focus.”

Furthermore, the company formed a new digital acceleration team “to optimize resources, leverage its capabilities and take full advantage of the significant growth in its e-commerce business.” Though Caleres said its digital sales moderated in the third quarter compared to Q2, it still reported a 48 percent year-over-year improvement. Notably, the new division arrives as the company moves to close 133 legacy Naturalizer stores by the end of the fiscal year and instead refocus on the comfort shoe brand’s e-commerce presence.

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Caleres has given senior vice president and chief information officer Willis Hill the task of assembling the core digital team, formulating a strategy, executing the plan and driving further e-commerce growth across the entire portfolio.

Additionally, the footwear retailer named Lydia Park Luis president, Brand Portfolio-New York Group, where she oversees the company’s international business. In her most recent role as CEO of Jack Rogers, Luis presided over the rebranding and reorganization of the 60-year-old footwear brand.

The company also promoted Keith Duplain to president, Brand Portfolio-St. Louis Group. A 15-year Caleres veteran, Duplain played an instrumental role in leading the organization’s sustainability efforts and reconceptualizing and growing its Dr. Scholl’s brand, Caleres said.