VF Corporation was until recently the world's largest manufacturer of branded clothing. It is the company behind such well-known names as The North Face outdoor clothing, Vans footwear, Kipling accessories and many others. Until 2019, it was also the owner of as Wrangler and Lee Jeans, claiming to be the world's biggest manufacturer of jeanswear by volume, ahead of Levi Strauss. However, outdoor clothing has become the group's most important business, a process that was further enhanced by a $2bn takeover of footwear and apparel business Timberland in 2011, followed by several other smaller purchases since then. As a result, VF announced plans to spin off its denim division to shareholders as a separate company. That process completed in May 2019, and the denim brands now trade separately as Kontoor Brands. The North Face and Timberland are now the lead brands in a newly created Outdoor segment, while Active comprises Vans, Kipling, Napapirji, Eastpak and others. The smallest of what are now three divisions - or coalitions as it has traditionally preferred to call them - is "workwear" which comprises a collection of what are now mostly workwear brands like Dickies, Bulwark and Kodiak boots. The group's name is derived from what was once its core business, the lingerie brand Vanity Fair, which it no longer owns. It took a strategic decision to exit that sector in 2007, selling its portfolio of brands to Fruit of the Loom. Another divestment was upscale clothing and lifestyle accessories label Nautica, acquired in 2003 but sold on again in 2018. The group also sold off its collection of high-end denim and sportswear brands in 2016, and the licensed sports apparel that was formerly the core of the imagewear coalition. Steve Rendle, former president of The North Face, is now group CEO. Revenues for the year to March 2019, prior to the spin-off of Kontoor, hit an all-time high of $13.8bn, with net income of $1.3bn. The outdoor & active segments each accounted for around a third of revenues, while denim contributed $2.5bn and work wear $1.9bn.
Capsule checked 30th January 2019
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Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Aug 2018: Diversified apparel group VF Corporation will spin off its jeanswear brands led by Wrangler and Lee Jeans into a separate quoted company that would become the global leader by volume in the denim category. (Levi's still leads by revenues). Completion is expected in early 2019. Scott Baxter was named as CEO-designate for the as yet unnamed company. Jeanswear has been in steady overall decline for years, even if the rate of decline appears to have slowed recently. In the US, total retail sales of jeans have fallen from $18.8bn in 2013 to around $16.2bn last year. VF's own jeanswear division has lost around 5% in revenues over the past couple of years. Last year's sales were $2.7bn. However, the group's main focus now on its outdoor and footwear divisions led by The North Face, Timberland and Vans.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Aug 2017: Clothing giant VF Corporation announced the acquisition of outdoor and workwear specialist Williamson-Dickie for around $820m, slightly less than annual revenues. The target company's portfolio of brands includes Dickies chinos and shorts, Kodiak boots, Terra footwear and Workrite safety apparel. These will join VF's extensive existing portfolio, which includes not only a sizeable workwear collection but also brands such as Timberland, Wrangler, The North Face and others.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Oct 2016: Ads of the Week: "Question Madness". Sid Lee's first campaign as global agency for The North Face offers a compilation of extraordinary clips which illustrate the highs and lows of outdoor adventuring. It's a clever idea: is this bold excitement or life-threatening madness? The answer of course is... it's both. Which is why it's so powerful. Those clips of freestyle climbers are especially nerve-wracking, even when they have ropes to catch their falls.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th July 2016: Apparel group VF Corporation, owners of Timberland, The North Face, Lee and Wrangler among others, pulled the plug on its struggling premium apparel unit, the so-called Contemporary Brands coalition. Brands include luxury denim brand 7 For All Mankind, and sportswear lines Ella Moss and Splendid. Revenues have been declining over the past couple of years, and VF took a large impairment against the business in 2014. The brands are being acquired by Israeli group Delta Galil for around $120m. VF is also seeking a buyer for its licensed sportswear division.
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