V.F. Corporation is the name behind the labels. Among the world's top jeans makers, it owns a bevy of denim brands: Lee, Riders, 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 1,125 VF-operated retail stores worldwide. About 80% of V.F. products are sold through department and specialty stores, mass merchants, and discounters.
V.F. Corp. rings up more than 60% of its sales in the US. The remainder comes primarily from Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico, and Latin America. The apparel maker has manufacturing plants in Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East.
V.F.'s fast-growing Outdoor & Action Sports business has grown to account for more than half of the company's sales. Indeed, V.F.'s stable of popular outdoor brands include The North Face, Jansport, Vans, Kipling, SmartWool, and recently-acquired Timberland, a maker of adventure-oriented footwear and apparel. Its Jeanswear business includes the Lee, Riders, Rustler, and Wrangler brands, as well as the fashion denim and sportwear brand Rock & Republic. Imagewear, which includes licensed athletic apparel and occupational clothing, accounts for 10% of sales.
The company's direct-to-consumer operations include full-price stores, outlet stores, and e-commerce. V.F. operates more than 1,225 stores, most of which are single-brand shops, such as The North Face, Timberland, Vans, and 7 For All Mankind, among others. It also runs about 80 VF Outlet stores in the US that sell a broad range of excess quantities of VF-branded products. On the wholesale side of the business, VF distributes apparel to specialty stores, department stores, national chains, and mass merchants.
Sales and Marketing
Retail-giant Wal-Mart Stores is V.F.'s largest customer, accounting for 8% of its total sales in 2012, and a major buyer of its jeanswear. During 2012 the apparel maker spent nearly $575 million (5.3% of net sales) on advertising and promotion. The company buys ads in trade publications, and on radio and television. Its digital initiatives include social media, mobile platforms, and the Internet.
Continued strong demand for its outdoor and action sports brands propelled V.F.'s sales to a record $10.9 billion in 2012, an increase of 15% versus 2011. Net income rose 22% over the same period. International sales rose 23%, while sales in the US increased 11%. The company's fast-growing Outdoor & Action Sports business -- helped by the acquisition of Timberland in 2011 -- achieved record revenues in 2012, increasing 29% versus 2011. The unit's The North Face and Vans brands sales grew 9% and 23%, respectively. Jeanswear, which accounts for about 25% of the company's sales, posted a 2% year over year sales increase.
V.F. Corp. takes a two-track approach to growth: both organic and through acquisitions. The company opened 141 new stores during 2012 and plans to open another 160 locations in 2013, focusing on high-potential brands, such as Vans, The North Face, Timberland, and Splendid, and international locations. In recent years, the gear-and-apparel maker has invested heavily in acquisitions to further build its outdoor and action sports business, which has grown to account for more than 50% of sales.
Mergers and Acquisitions
V.F. in September 2011 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. 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. Corp. 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., founded in 1899, is controlled in part by trusts established by its late founder John Barbey. Barbey's trusts own about 19% of the company.