VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC) is taking its venerable outdoor segment and dividing it into two separate business units effective immediately. Steve Rendle, currently president of The North Face, will lead the new VF Outdoor Americas, which includes The North Face, JanSport and Eagle Creek.
Vans and Reef will now be housed under a new brand umbrella, VF Action Sports Americas, led by current Vans President Stephen Murray.
In addition, all sportswear and outdoor brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be contained within the VF International Sportswear and Packs business unit, led by Scabbia Guerrini.
SNEWS® pulled Rendle off the slopes at Snowbird, Utah, for a brief conversation about the changes once the news was made official.
“This really is an internal change,” Rendle told us. “We have a thoughtful and deliberate strategy going forward and it should be very evident to anyone that VF has both the resources and commitment to be very serious about both outdoor and action sports.”
Napapijri, a niche European brand, which formerly reported to Rendle, has been moved back under the European umbrella. “It is a small business and we felt that its best opportunity for growth was for it to reconnect with the Euro mother ship,” said Rendle. “It still will have a sales and marketing focus in the Americas, but report to Europe on all fronts.”
As for any changes, Rendle said there are none that will be evident immediately.
“The three outdoor brands are clear market leaders with strong and clear strategies,” Rendle told us. “While I know TNF intimately, I know JanSport and Eagle Creek far less, so it will take time for me to get engaged in their businesses and see if there are ideas we can all unlock together to make each brand stronger than it is now.”
Rendle also told us that he will remain at the helm of The North Face as president for the foreseeable future. “You will see me delegating specific North Face tasks to my direct reports to free up some time, but I do not have a specific timetable in mind for when I will name my successor.”
SNEWS® View: It wasn’t very long ago that SNEWS was engaged in acquisition target discussions with various investor-types and the topic of VF Outdoor came up. With some of the rumored acquisition possibilities, we wondered how VF was going to manage such a diverse and growing portfolio. Now we know. Smart move all around and it means now action sports businesses and potential acquisitions will be managed one way, and outdoor businesses and potential acquisition targets another. Make no mistake that even though VF reported likely economic downturn for the company, it is still very strong and has the resources to make acquisitions of the kind Wolverine (Merrell) is now completing with Chaco. There will be more companies, like Chaco, with great brand equity, but failing capital and resources in need of an acquisition to stay alive or grow. Expect VF to capitalize.