icebreaker & VF Corporation
VF CORPORATION, A GLOBAL LEADER IN BRANDED LIFESTYLE APPAREL, ACQUIRES ICEBREAKER, CREATING AN EXPANDED OPPORTUNITY FOR THE NEW ZEALAND MERINO INDUSTRY.
icebreaker, the iconic global outdoor clothing business, today announced that it will be acquired by U.S.-based VF Corporation (NYSE:VFC). VF, a company with a market capitalisation of about $USD 28 billion based in Greensboro, North Carolina, owns many iconic brands, including The North Face®, Timberland®, SmartWool® and Vans®, and has a proven track record as an ethical brand custodian.
Established in New Zealand 22 years ago by founder Jeremy Moon, icebreaker today is sold in 47 countries around the world, with its headquarters spread across four continents and more than 80 percent of sales occurring in the Northern Hemisphere. icebreaker purchases 25 percent of the Merino wool New Zealand grows and works with leading manufacturers across Asia, Europe and the U.S. to produce more than 4 million garments per year.
Founder Jeremy Moon says: “I founded icebreaker to offer a natural choice to adventurers, and to build a global brand from New Zealand. Our partnership with VF provides us with the largest platform in the world to tell our story, access new markets and reach new consumers at an accelerated pace. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our global icebreaker team and for our New Zealand wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool.”
In announcing the acquisition, Rob Fyfe, Chairman of icebreaker, paid tribute to the vision and ambition of founder Jeremy Moon; “Jeremy’s goal, was to build a global community that believed in his vision that nature held the answers to creating sustainable high-performance outdoor clothing. Today the Merino apparel category, that Jeremy created, is a fast-growing category in both the outdoor and active urban clothing markets around the globe. icebreaker continues to lead the category with global sales growing 12 percent to NZ$223 million this year.”
“icebreaker is still a very small brand in the global outdoor industry. The opportunity to join VF’s stable of globally recognised brands and to be able to benefit from their expertise, consumer insights, distribution and operating scale presented Jeremy and icebreaker’s board with the best opportunity to realise our ambition to become a $1 billion brand,” says Rob Fyfe.
“Bringing the icebreaker brand into the VF portfolio is a special opportunity,” said Steve Rendle Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of VF. “Its natural fiber focus is an ideal complement to our SmartWool® brand, which also features Merino in its clothing and accessories. Together, the SmartWool® and icebreaker brands create an advantaged position for VF as a leader in the growing and underpenetrated natural fiber category. We will have unmatched capabilities that will strengthen our ability to create innovative and sustainable natural fiber products across our brand portfolio, especially in VF’s Outdoor and Workwear brands.”
John Brakenridge, CEO of the NZ Merino Company (NZM) is excited by the new opportunity for the NZ Merino industry. “icebreaker has been instrumental in creating the Merino outdoor apparel category. NZ Merino Company has worked with icebreaker for almost two decades partnering to develop ethical wool standards and multi-year wool contracts and many farmers have recently committed to 10-year supply agreements with icebreaker. VF have also had a long-term commitment to the New Zealand Merino industry through their investment in SmartWool®. We have worked closely with SmartWool® in areas such as sustainability and social responsibility. Today we are seeing record demand and prices for New Zealand Merino wool which is grown to our ZQ ethical wool standard, and the synergy of these two brands working as sisters from the same stable to build increased awareness of the Merino apparel category represents an exciting new development for the New Zealand Merino wool industry.”
Both Jeremy Moon and Rob Fyfe have committed to ongoing roles with icebreaker and VF Corporation to ensure the most can be made of this exciting new opportunity.
“This is a real celebration for a successful New Zealand company coming of age and attracting the interest of VF, one of the largest and most ethical owners of active lifestyle apparel in the world. This will not only grow icebreaker and demand for New Zealand Merino, but it will help pivot the outdoor industry towards natural sustainable clothing. It seems a world away from 1995 when I was driving around visiting outdoor stores in New Zealand, selling icebreaker from my grandfather’s old suitcase.” Jeremy Moon said.
Credit Suisse and First NZ Capital are acting as financial advisors to icebreaker and Chapman Tripp is acting as legal advisor.
Founded by Jeremy Moon in 1995 in New Zealand, icebreaker pioneered the ethical and sustainable production of natural performance apparel. The apparel collection for men, women & children harnesses the natural performance properties of merino wool sourced directly from the most sustainable and ethical merino farms in New Zealand.
icebreaker is now sold in 47 countries through wholesale, branded retail & e-commerce platforms. To discover more visit our story.
VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) outfits consumers around the world with its diverse portfolio of iconic lifestyle brands, including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, Wrangler® and Lee®. Founded in 1899, VF is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies with socially and environmentally responsible operations spanning numerous geographies, product categories and distribution channels. VF is committed to delivering innovative products to consumers and creating long-term value for its customers and shareholders. For more information, visit www.vfc.com.