VF Corp., parent to The North Face, Timberland and Vans and numerous other outdoor brands, continues to up is direct connections with consumers, and signaled higher confidence for the outdoor industry in 2014.
The company’s Outdoor & Action Sports segment reported first-quarter 2014 sales up 14 percent to $1.57 billion, with big gains from its top outdoor brands via their direct-to-consumer channels.
Within the group, The North Face reported sales up 14 percent, led by a nearly 30 percent jump in direct-to-consumer sales, versus “high single-digit” growth at wholesale. Sales were strongest in the Americas, followed by Asia Pacific, with lower gains in Europe.
Timberland sales got back on their feet, up a healthy 12 percent in first quarter with 20 percent growth in its wholesale business and slightly less via its direct-to-consumer channels.
Vans, which represented the highest of any VF brand in the first quarter, were up 20 percent with strong, double-digit growth across all geographies, as well as in the brand’s wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels.
The Outdoor & Action Sports group as a whole, which also includes SmartWool, Jansport, Eagle Creek, Lucy and others, was also was quite profitable, brining in $274 million for first quarter 2014, versus $226.5 million a year ago — a 21 percent gain.
Overall, VF Corp., which also sells jeans, sports, image and contemporary wear reported sales up 6.5 percent to $2.8 billion, signaling that the heart of its growth continues to come from its outdoor brands. Net income for the entire company rose to $297 million in the first quarter versus $270 million during the same period a year ago.
While not broken out by brand, direct-to-consumer sales at VF Corp., now account for 23 percent of the business, including its 1,263 storefronts, online channels and concession locations.
The healthy first-quarter gains led VF officials to raise guidance for the company, estimating full-year 2014 sales to raise on the high end of its 7 to 8 percent estimate with higher profits than previously projected.
“Second quarter revenues are expected to increase at a similar level to that of the first quarter, and again be driven primarily by strength from our Outdoor & Action Sports coalition,” officials said. “For the full year, Outdoor & Action Sports coalition revenues are now expected to be up 12 to 13 percent,” which would beat last year’s 9 percent gain.
In a nutshell, VF officials are more bullish for outdoor in 2014.