Timberland takeover £1.2bn

Wednesday, 15 June 2011
US outdoor retailer Timberland is to be bought for $2bn(£1.2bn) by American conglomerate VF Corporation. Timberland will be joining a portfolio that includes Lee and Wrangler jeans, Vans shoes and The North Face brand.

"The Timberland brand is synonymous with high quality outdoor footwear and apparel," said Eric Wiseman, VF Corporation's chief executive, who added that the company had been number one on its acquisition hit list for years. "The unique rugged outdoor positioning of Timberland will perfectly complement the premium, technical positioning of The North Face brand."

The addition of Timberland hiking boots to the corporate wardrobe excited investors, who sent VF Corporation's shares up more than 10 per cent, their best one-day performance since 2008. The deal has received the backing of Timberland's founding Swartz family, VF Group said.

Nathan Swartz turned Abington Shoe Company, a small-time Massachusetts manufacturer which he bought in 1952, into a global powerhouse thanks to the creation of the Timberland boot in 1973. The company, which is now run by his grandson, Jeffrey Swartz, makes $1.6bn in annual sales, half of which are in the US.

"Timberland is proud of its rich heritage, its track record of success and its reputation as a responsible and environmentally conscious global citizen, all of which will be preserved and enhanced by becoming part of the VF family of brands," Mr Swartz said.

Now based in New Hampshire, Timberland also owns the Mountain Athletics and SmartWool brands. These days it claims a mission to "equip people to make a difference in their world". It says: "We make boots, shoes, clothes and gear that are comfortable enough to wear all day and rugged enough for all year. And we don't rest on our accomplishments – if we did, we'd only have ever made one waterproof leather boot."

VF Corporation was founded in 1899 as the Reading Glove and Mitten Manufacturing Company in Pennsylvania. It acquired Lee Jeans in 1969 and has been steadily buying other major clothing makers and retailers since then. After yesterday's share price jump, the group has a market value of more than $12bn.

Image: Timberland

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