V.F. Corporation is the name behind the label. Among the world's top jeans makers, it owns a bevy of denim brands: Lee, Riders, Rustler, Wrangler, and Rock & Republic. Other holdings include JanSport and Eastpak (backpacks), North Face and Eagle Creek (outdoor gear), Red Kap and Bulwark (work clothes), Nautica (sportswear), lucy (women's athletic apparel), 7 For All Mankind (premium denim, casual wear), and Vans (footwear). V.F.'s Majestic label offers licensed MLB, NFL, and NBA apparel. Direct sales to consumers are rung up through Internet sites and more than 1,050 VF-operated retail stores worldwide. Some 80% of V.F. products are sold through department and specialty stores, mass merchants, and discounters.
Led by demand for its outdoor and action sports offerings, the company's sales grew to a record $9.5 billion in 2011, a more than 20% improvement from the prior year. Significantly, V.F.'s international business grew more than 40% over 2010, generating about a third of total revenues. Profits, however, made an even more impressive advance -- from about $571.4 million in 2010 to $888.1 million in 2011, a 55% increase.
The 2011 results build upon momentum achieved in 2010 coupled with V.F.'s plans to grow through heavy investment in its outdoor and action sports business, which now accounts for close to 50% of total revenues. To this end, V.F. acquired global footwear maker Timberland for $2 billion. Marking the biggest acquisition in the company's history, V.F. was enticed by Timberland's overseas presence and its strong growth during the past decade. Global revenues from the outdoor and action sports business soared more than 40% over 2010, more than half of which was attributable to the Timberland acquisition. A year earlier, on the wholesaling side V.F. took control of its Vans-branded products marketing venture in Mexico. The roughly $30 million purchase also put V.F. in charge of Vans retail stores. V.F. Corporation is hoping to boost its outdoor business and its bottom line further through its 2013 bid to take over Australia's boardwear maker Billabong in a deal valued at 526.8 million Australian dollars (US $556 million).
Beyond outdoor and action sports lines, V.F. has added several high-end labels to its contemporary brands business, the smallest in terms of sales and profits. In 2011 the company bought premium denim label Rock & Republic out of bankruptcy for $58.1 million. V.F. has taken over manufacturing of the jeanswear brand, whose pieces debut exclusively at Kohl's department stores in 2012. The deal builds upon V.F.'s 2009 acquisition of Mo Industries Holdings, the maker of upscale sportswear brands Splendid and Ella Moss. Its desire to invest in premium lifestyle labels, however, is modest. In 2012 the company sold its majority stake in upscale men's designer brand John Varvatos to private equity Lion Capital.
V.F.'s strategy to drive sales and profits does include expanding its retail store and e-commerce footprint, accounting for 9% and 10%, respectively, of total revenues in 2011. Direct to consumer operations allow the company to provide a top-shelf presence for its brands, at full price, as well as enable it to stay one step closer to rapidly changing consumer preferences. Most operations are single brand stores, 65% of which are in the US. During the year V.F. opened 131 stores and acquired 188 Timberland stores. It plans to add about 130 new store locations in 2012, primarily under its Vans, North Face, and 7 For All Mankind banners, along with a roll out of additional e-commerce sites.
V.F., founded in 1899, is controlled in part by trusts established by its founder John Barbey. Barbey's trusts own about 20% of the company. – less