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VF Corp. acquires New Zealand natural fibre sports brand Icebreaker

VF Corp. acquires New Zealand natural fibre sports brand Icebreaker

VF Corporation announced it has acquired natural fibre sports brand Icebreaker.

With terms of the agreement undisclosed, the US apparel and lifestyle group looks to penetrate the natural fibre category, adding the New Zealand brand to its other natural fibre brand SmartWool.

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The Auckland, New Zealand-based apparel brand promotes the use of natural fibres in its collections, with products made mostly from merino wool, and both plant-based and recycled fibres. According to a press release, Icebreaker’s “farm to garment” approach uses merino wool sourced from the most sustainable and ethical merino farms in New Zealand. Moreover, the merino apparel category is one of the fastest growing categories in both the outdoor and active urban clothing markets around the globe.

“Bringing the Icebreaker brand into the VF portfolio is a special opportunity,” said Steve Rendle, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of VF Corporation.

“Its natural fibre 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 fibre category. We will have unmatched capabilities that will strengthen our ability to create innovative and sustainable natural fibre products across our brand portfolio, especially in VF’s Outdoor and Workwear brands.”

Entrepreneur Jermey Moon founded Icebreaker in 1995. The brand generated approximately $150 million in revenue last year and already has 340 full-time employees.

“I founded Icebreaker to offer a natural choice to adventurers, and to build a global brand from New Zealand,” said Moon. “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 brand team and for our wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool.”

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The brand’s products are currently sold across 47 countries through wholesale channels and branded retail and e-commerce platforms.

The purchase transaction will be completed in early 2018 and the addition of the Icebreaker brand to VF’s portfolio is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings per share.

Barclays is acting as exclusive financial advisor to VF Corporation and Davis Polk & Wardwell is acting as legal advisor.