Matthew Rubel Resigns as CEO, Collective Brands, Michael J. Massey named interim CEO, release, note by Larry Eder


Matt Rubel, who has spent the last six years as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Collective Brands, has resigned. As CEO of Collective Brands, Rubel oversaw brands such as,  Payless Shoe Source, and footwear brands Sperry and Saucony. Rubel's resignation was effective June 15, per a news release posted on the Collective Brands website. Michael J. Massey has been named the interim CEO for Collective Brands.

There has been some recent pressure from the investment community and investment media on Mr. Rubel, noting the recent challenges of the Payless chain. This was during a time that two of his prized brands, Sperry (Topsider) and Saucony were growing very well.

The resignation came as a shock to most of the employees of Collective Brands. The change by the Collective Brands board was swift and done with much discretion.( The release of the resignation was well organized as well, note that Mr. Rubel's wikipedia page was updated June 16.) 

The release was very supportive of Mr. Rubel, with a note from Mr. Rubel wishing nothing but the best and a statement from Robert C. Wheeler, Lead Director, praising Matt Rubel on his leadership and noting that they would hope to build on his successes.

The time between the complaining by Investment media and the resignation, obviously pushed by the Collective Brands board,  was quick. The bloodletting was small, but there must be come concern within CB employees as to what the next steps will be. Mr. Rubel was known for his gamesmanship, and desire to build the Collective Brands business, especially in sports and leisure.

Publicly traded companies have their own pressures, and CEOs and executives at those companies deal with unique pressures. The need for a scapegoat sometimes surpasses the need of an effective leader over the long term. If that is the case, that would be disappointing. 

We wish Mr. Rubel our best wishes. He has been a colorful and welcome addition to our sports business over the past four years! He realized, that for vertical brands, supporting human capital, focusing product on the market, and focusing marketing and sports marketing on the specific marketplace brings tremendous dividends.

For more on Matt Rubel:

TOPEKA, KS, Jun 15, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) --

Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS) announced today that the Board of Directors and Matthew Rubel agreed that Mr. Rubel would resign as director, Chairman of the Board and an officer of the Company, effective immediately. Michael J. Massey has been named the interim Chief Executive Officer and D. Scott Olivet has been named the Company's Non-Executive Chairman.

Mr. Olivet, a member of the Collective Brands Board of Directors since 2006, is a 27-year veteran of the apparel, sports and retailing industry, having served as CEO of Oakley, Inc. and in senior positions at Nike, Inc. and The Gap Inc., participating in the growth and development of such iconic brands as Oakley, Converse, Cole Haan, Hurley, Bauer, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. Mr. Massey has served in both corporate and operating roles during his 15 years at Collective Brands, including directing all aspects of the Company's successful international expansion and operations. He continues to lead the international growth and overall business development in addition to serving as the Company's Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary.

The Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee, chaired by Mylle Mangum, has commenced a search for a permanent replacement for Mr. Rubel as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Massey has informed the Board that he does not wish to be a candidate for the position.

The Company has also added the Presidents and Chief Executive Officers of its three business units to its governing Executive Committee, effective immediately. LuAnn Via has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Payless ShoeSource since 2008, with more than 35 years of retailing experience, including senior positions at Charming Shoppes, Inc., Sears Roebuck and Co. and Saks Incorporated. Gregg S. Ribatt, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company's Performance + Lifestyle Group, has been in his position since 2008 and brings extensive footwear experience from his tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer of Stuart Weitzman Holdings and 13 years at Bennett Footwear. Bruce T. Pettet has led the Collective Licensing business since its formation in 2003 and has 20 years of experience in the sporting and footwear industries, including serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Brooks Sports.

Other members of the governing Executive Committee are Betty J. Click, Senior Vice President, Human Resources; Darrel J. Pavelka, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain; and Douglas J. Treff, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. The Committee will report to Mr. Massey and Mr. Olivet.

"On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Matt for his efforts over his six years at the helm of Collective Brands, and the strong and positive role he played in building our businesses," said Robert C. Wheeler, the Company's Lead Director. "We look forward to building on that foundation and to a new Chief Executive Officer leading the Company toward the growth we see in our future."

"I am proud of our accomplishments at Collective Brands," said Mr. Rubel. "We have built a talented management team, improved our brand presence at Payless, expanded the Company globally and diversified into new consumer segments and channels with great brands like Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Keds and Stride Rite. I wish the Company and its employees all the best as I pursue a new chapter in my career." Mr. Rubel will remain available to assist the Board, as needed.

Mr. Olivet said, "With strong and experienced executives running each of our three operating businesses, excellent functional management and Michael's leadership, we have full confidence that we can improve our business performance. Our number one priority is to accelerate traffic and sales at Payless' U.S. operations by renewing our commitment to our core customer. Our historic positioning as the destination for fashionable footwear and accessories at unbeatable prices is particularly relevant in these tough economic times, and we will be more aggressive with this message to our current loyal customers as well as those consumers who have not shopped with us recently. We will also focus on maintaining the strong momentum of our Performance + Lifestyle Group, our Collective Licensing business, the Payless international business and our growing digital commerce business."

Mr. Massey said, "As I assume the role of interim CEO, one of my key initiatives is to provide LuAnn the resources and focus necessary to significantly advance our progress at Payless. With 480 million customer visits to our 4,400 stores in 2010, we know we have a uniquely powerful connection with our consumer and it is our intent to leverage that relationship to drive sales and profit growth. By rededicating ourselves to price and value leadership, introducing exciting new customer loyalty programs and improving our advertising spend and message to be more relevant and accessible, we are confident we can win back our core customer and drive improvements in traffic and sales. Many of our plans are already being implemented and we will be introducing new merchandising programs in the future. We will also continue to grow the great brands in our Performance + Lifestyle Group at an aggressive pace by expanding the channels of distribution and product lines within our iconic brands."

"I am especially grateful that I can rely upon Scott and other members of the Board during this interim period. This will enable our team to devote our full efforts to generating increased revenues and profits," continued Mr. Massey.

Mr. Massey joined the Company in 1996 from The May Department Stores Company, where he served as counsel from 1990 to 1996. He joined Payless ShoeSource, the predecessor company of Collective Brands, when it was spun off from The May Company, serving as the Company's Senior Counsel in 1996 and its Vice President and Group Counsel for Intellectual Property in 1998. He was promoted to Vice President of Contract Manufacturing and International Development in 2000, and since 2001, he has had various responsibilities including being responsible for the Company's international operations, leading its successful international expansion and overseeing the performance of these operations. He has served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary since 2003. He is a graduate of Indiana University and Washington University School of Law.

Over his 27-year career, Mr. Olivet has amassed significant experience in retail, merchandising, marketing, finance, strategy, management and technology. He is Chief Executive Officer of Renegade Brands, LLC, and serves as Executive Chairman of RED Digital Cinema. Mr. Olivet served as Chief Executive Officer and Director of Oakley, Inc. (formerly NYSE: OO) from 2005 to 2009 and as Chairman of the Board from 2009 to 2011. From 2001 to 2005, Mr. Olivet served as Vice President, Nike Subsidiaries and New Business Development, responsible for Converse, Hurley, Cole Haan, Bauer Nike Hockey, and Starter brands. From 1998 to 2001, he served as Senior Vice President of Real Estate, Store Design, and Construction with Gap Inc. From 1984 to 1998, Mr. Olivet was with Bain & Company, serving as Partner and leader of the Worldwide Organizational and Change Management Practice from 1993 to 1998. He has served as a Director of Collective Brands, Inc., since 2006; a Director of RED Digital Cinema since 2006; a Trustee of Pomona College since 2009 and Vice-Chair of the Audit Committee since 2011; a Director of Pacific Council on International Policy since 2010; and a Director of Skullcandy, Inc. since June 2011. He is a graduate of Pomona College and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

About Collective Brands and Forward-Looking Statements Collective Brands, Inc. is a leader in bringing compelling lifestyle, fashion and performance brands for footwear and related accessories to consumers worldwide. Collective Brands, Inc. is the holding company for Payless ShoeSource, Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group, and Collective Licensing International. Payless ShoeSource is the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere. It is dedicated to democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories and inspiring fun, fashion possibilities for the family at a great value. The Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group markets lifestyle and performance branded footwear for children and adults sold primarily through wholesale and retail under well-known brand names including Stride Rite, Saucony, Sperry Top-Sider, Keds, and Robeez. Collective Licensing International is a leading youth lifestyle marketing and global licensing business. Information about, and links for shopping at, each of Collective Brands' units can be found at

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