In a roundtable with reporters Wednesday afternoon, VF Corporation CEO Steve Rendle brought his company’s decision to move to Denver in line with the conglomerate's employee-centric ethics, attributing the move to a push to attract and keep talent in a location that matches employees’ conscience and passions.
Announced earlier this month, the parent of The North Face, JanSport, Smartwool, Eagle Creek, and Altra plans to move those outdoor-specific businesses from their respective homes scattered across the country to the Denver metro, co-locating them with VF’s corporate executives. The move will bring 800 jobs to the region, including about 80 top-level corporate positions.
“The state’s position on the outdoor environment—clean air and land and access—is personal to our employees and we’re creating an environment that allows our employees to bring their best selves to work,” Rendle said. “This just started to feel like the best place to be.”
Giving back to Colorado
Rendle balanced any concern with the generous tax incentives being handed down by the Colorado Economic Development Commission, which will total $27 million when VF has created the promised jobs. Rendle noted the credits were an important decision point, helping offset the approximately $70 million cost the company will spend in moving to the area, assist the publicly-traded company uphold its shareholder commitments, as well as support VF’s philanthropic giving, through its charitable arm, the VF Foundation.
“We felt it was important to signal to Colorado,” Rendle said, “that the incentives are important but over time we will match that dollar for dollar and give back to that same level to programs and philanthropies that align with our purpose and that align with Colorado’s purpose.”
Colorado has been a growing hub of the outdoor industry, corresponding with Outdoor Retailer's recent move to Denver from Salt Lake City, and Rendle said its status as a home of so many other brands and industry players is a big plus.
“We all have the same vision, for access to public lands, so to have an even stronger collective voice for those things that are important to our industry is nothing but a positive,” he said, adding that the (“unfortunately rare”) moments to collaborate with competing brands, tap into the Outdoor Industries Association, and grow relationships throughout the industry will only create what he calls a strong group of friends. Plus, Rendle said, “It certainly will make travel to the OR show easier.”
Under one roof
A 10-month-long exploration looking at relocating the company stemmed first from a long-term reorganization of VF, that according to Rendle, saw the company reorganizing its investment portfolio and deciding to spin off the company’s denim businesses, Wrangler and Lee, into a separate company. With VF’s headquarters located in Greensboro, North Carolina, alongside these soon-to-be-separate brands, the focus turned toward toward potentially moving closer to VF’s outdoor holdings, and eventually to the idea of moving them all under one roof. According to Rendle, the company explored a wide range of potential locations, eventually narrowing it down to Denver.
Read more about the leadership changes at VF at Smartwool.
Logistically, details of the move are still up in the air. While VF’s companies in the U.S. are currently spread out independently, the corporation’s offices in Europe and Asia see multiple brands under one roof. Rendle said his staff are using those as templates to build their new headquarters. As of now, single-building and campus models are on the table, as are the number of relocated employees and local hires.
“There will be 800 positions,” Rendle explained, but all current employees have been given the opportunity to relocate, though it’s unknown as of now how many will take the opportunity. VF hopes to have its first employees make the move around this time next year.