On Jan. 6, the VF Outdoor group, which includes The North Face, JanSport, Reef, Eagle Creek, Kipling, Napapijri and Eastpak, told each brand's employees that it had eliminated positions resulting in immediate job cuts. The job eliminations were not part of any company mandate to reduce headcounts by “X” percentage, we were told, but more a matter of each brand within the VF Outdoor group being proactive to ensure the division will be able to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging economic climate.
At The North Face, President Steve Rendle told SNEWS® the eliminated positions resulted in just under 4 percent of that brand's workforce losing their jobs.
"We would be remiss if we just put our heads in the sand and were not cognizant of the economic climate," said Rendle. "The decisions we made regarding positions at TNF were primarily about optimizing the organization by ensuring we have the right folks in the right positions performing the right jobs. This brand has never been as strong as it has been today. We have great people making great product."
The North Face was not alone in experiencing staff cuts. Dave Gatto, president of Outdoor Americas for VF Outdoor, told SNEWS that reductions were made across the board, and varied by brand. JanSport, for example, eliminated positions that resulted in just over 4 percent of its workforce being cut. Reef experienced perhaps the most significant reductions, a result of the brand choosing to restructure one of its product lines.
"I clearly believe we are weathering the economic challenges better than anyone currently," Gatto told us. "The brands are all very strong and performing well at retail, but these are extraordinary times. We need to be fiscally prudent and responsible in looking at the business, and while we make tough business decisions all of the time, these particular decisions are the most difficult in that they affect people's lives."
SNEWS® View: At no time when someone loses a job is it a good thing. To VF's credit, and the leadership at each of the VF Outdoor brands, SNEWS has heard from a number of people who were let go that the job reductions and notifications of job eliminations was handled with dignity, consideration and class. No easy task at any time, especially now given the uncertainty and volatility of this market.