Dr Martens promotes top marketer to CEO

Newly appointed chief brand officer Ije Nwokorie will take over as CEO next year.

Dr Martens
Dr Martens has promoted chief brand officer Ije Nwokorie to CEO, succeeding Kenny Wilson, who will step down before the end of March next year after six years in the role.

The promotion comes just two months after Nwokorie started in the newly-created chief brand officer position. Prior to joining Dr Martens he was a non-executive director at the business. He moved to the footwear brand from Apple Retail where he had been senior director since January 2018.

In his current role as chief brand officer, Nwokorie is responsible for overseeing the global marketing, product and strategy functions, and setting the overall brand strategy, vision and direction for Dr Martens.

He will continue as chief brand officer until the transition, with his main focus being “the brand and driving demand” ahead of the “important” autumn/winter 2024 season.

Nwokorie and Wilson will work together to ensure a “smooth handover” before Nwokorie takes over as CEO in the lead-up to the end of the financial year in 2025.

Wilson says he feels “the time is right” to hand over the baton. “I have enjoyed working with Ije, both as a board member and in the executive leadership team in recent months, and I have seen his brand knowledge and passion first-hand. I look forward to working with him closely in the year ahead,” he adds.

Nwokorie says: “We have a phenomenal brand, an excellent product range and a passionate culture. I am looking forward to working with Kenny through this transition year.”

We have a phenomenal brand, an excellent product range and a passionate culture.

Ije Nwokorie, Dr Martens

The change in leadership announcement comes ahead of the footwear and clothing brand revealing its FY24 results on 30 May, which it says are expected to be in line with expectations.

Despite increasing prices twice in 2023, the company saw sales improve in its core markets. Yet overall, revenue and profit for the six months to the end of September were lower than the prior half year, mainly due to lower volume sales in the US.

For its FY25 outlook, the company anticipates US wholesale revenue to be down by double-digits compared to last year.

Dr Martens creates brand chief role as part of mission to become £2bn revenue brand

Wilson says the outlook for next year remains “challenging”, and the entire organisation is focused on “the action plan to reignite boots demand.” The primary focus is the US, the organisation’s largest market.

“The nature of USA wholesale is that when customers gain confidence in the market we will see a significant improvement in our business performance, but we are not assuming that this occurs in FY25,” Wilson adds.

In June 2023, Wilson admitted its execution in the US had been “weak”, largely due to a different marketing focus in the region, which saw it move away from its core boots.

At the time, Nwokorie was hired to help with this marketing focus and tasked with making Dr Martens’ marketing “the cleanest it’s ever been in terms of communicating with customers”.