Caleres has revealed its executive succession plan after CEO Diane Sullivan announced her retirement, effective Jan. 15, 2023, with Jay Schmidt taking the reins as the top executive. Caleres is the parent company of footwear brands such as Famous Footwear, Blowfish Malibu, Dr. Scholl’s Shoes, Naturalizer and Sam Edelman.
In her new role of Executive Chairman, Sullivan will continue to lead the board of directors in addition to working with Schmidt and the Caleres leadership team to direct strategic initiatives. She joined Caleres as President in 2004 and by 2006 she became COO, before being named to the CEO and President roles in 2011. In 2014, Sullivan was named chairman of the board. Throughout her career, Sullivan has emphasized the importance of gender parity, a priority evident in the Caleres board of directors consisting of more than 50% women. During her career, Sullivan also worked with The Stride Rite Corporation as COO and held consumer brand management and sales roles at companies including M&M/Mars and The Mennen Company.
“Diane transformed Caleres from a company that sells shoes to one that builds brands and connects with consumers while at the same time markedly changing the financial performance of the company,” said Ward Klein, Lead Independent Director of Caleres in a statement. “She skillfully evolved the company’s portfolio — leading the acquisition and incubation of numerous brands including Sam Edelman, Allen Edmonds and Vionic, all three of which are now lead assets for the company. Notably, the company’s earnings per share climbed steadily, increasing six-fold over Diane’s tenure as CEO. The board is delighted that she has agreed to accept the new executive chair role, where she can continue to use her strategic abilities and vast industry knowledge to help lead the company forward.”
Schmidt joined Caleres in 2009 as the company’s SVP and General Manager of Image Brands, becoming President of Contemporary Fashion in 2010. He was named President of the Brand Portfolio in 2016 before taking on the role of President in 2020. Prior to his work with Caleres, Schmidt’s 25+-year career included work with Nine West Group, Lord & Taylor, May Merchandising Corporation and Macy’s.