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For VF, there are "no sacred cows" in strategic review

Illustration of a spot on a cow shaped like a dollar sign.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

VF Corp. is conducting a review of its brand portfolio for possible divestitures, CEO Bracken Darrell said on Tuesday during an earnings call.

Why it matters: VF is one of the last surviving apparel conglomerates whose fortunes once rested on malls and the department stores that anchored them.

Details: VF's holdings include The North Face, Vans, Timberland, Dickies, Kipling, Smart Wool, Napapijri, Icebreaker and Altra, among others.

  • An industry banker tells Axios that one way to interpret the CEO's comments is that any of those brands could end up being sold, not just the poorest performers.
  • Brand management companies such as Authentic Brands Group are among the likely buyers of the businesses, the source says.

Our thought bubble: By placing a for sale sign on the brands, VF may be putting itself up for grabs.

  • Recall The Jones Group, which opted to be taken private by PE firm Sycamore, which then separated the business piecemeal about a decade ago.
  • A similar approach could be applied to VF, which is trading under $15 per share midmorning, levels not seen since the financial crisis in 2009.

Flashback: VF's made some bad bets, including the 2020 acquisition of streetwear brand Supreme for $2.1 billion.

Catch up fast: The company is under pressure from investors, namely, activists Engaged Capital and Legion Partners, to turn the business around.

  • It is conducting a sale process for its backpack business consisting of Jansport and Eastpak, with proceeds to pay down debt.
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