VF Corp. on Thursday announced that it is selling the Reef brand to footwear company The Rockport Group, which has been in the portfolio of private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners, LLC since August this year.
The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to close this month, according to a VF press release. Reef will operate as an independent brand under The Rockport Group and will maintain its Carlsbad, California, headquarters, the company said.
VF Corp. in August spun off its denim business into a separate, yet-to-be-named company that includes the Lee and Wrangler brands as well as its outlet business.
By unloading yet another brand, VF is continuing to sharpen its focus.
"Reshaping VF’s brand portfolio to deliver sustainable, long-term growth and superior returns to shareholders remains our top priority," VF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Rendle said in a statement on Thursday. "Today’s announcement is another step toward delivering on the commitments outlined in our multi-year business strategy.”
Indeed, the spin-off of longstanding denim brands Wrangler and Lee and the sale of surf brand Reef are examples of several moves made at VF in the past couple of years as investors have urged growth. In 2016, VF unloaded its contemporary brands businesses — including 7 for All Mankind, Splendid and Ella Moss — to Israeli apparel company Delta Galil Industries for $120 million. More recently it also sold off Nautica (bought by Authentic Brands) and Licensed Sports Group, including the Majestic brand (bought by Fanatics).
But VF isn't just dumping brands, it's also acquiring them. The company last year took on workwear label Williamson-Dickie, performance wear label Icebreaker and running shoe company Altra. Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry advisor at The NPD Group, told Retail Dive in an email earlier this year that VF is likely to further expand its outdoor and athleisure portfolio through acquisitions.
Gregg Ribatt, who now heads Rockport, expressed confidence in the Reef brand, and said that its existing teams will remain to help it grow, including making good on "plans across consumer, product and geographic expansion.”
PJ Solomon is the financial advisor to VF on the transaction, and Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP is legal advisor.