Lee, Wrangler owner VF Corp to spin off its jeans unit into a public company

  • VF Corp. will spin off its denim business that houses Lee and Wrangler jeans into an independent public company
  • The apparel maker is seeking to sharpen its focus on more profitable brands such as Vans shoes and The North Face outdoor wear.
  • Its jeans business has underperformed as large retailers including Walmart increasingly stock their own private labels

VF Corp. will spin off Lee and Wrangler jeans into an independent public company, the company said on Monday, seeking to focus more on profitable brands such as Vans sneakers and The North Face outdoor wear.

Skateboarder favorite Vans has driven much of VF's growth in recent years while its jeans business has underperformed as large retailers including Walmart promoted their own private labels instead.

Annual sales of VF-made jeans fell 1 percent in the company's latest reporting period, while overall sales climbed 12.5 percent.

VF has already sold apparel brand Nautica as it seeks to concentrate on its faster-growing outdoor and athletic names. The new VF also holds onto Timberland and will have annual revenue of more than $11 billion, compared to just over $2.5 billion for the new jeans company.

VF will shift base to Denver while the still-to-be-named jeans company will move to the company's traditional base in Greensboro, North Carolina, and be led by Scott Baxter, currently president of VF's Americas West group.

Baxter led VF's jeans business from 2011 to 2015 and will focus on increasing sales in China and other Asian markets at the new company.

VF said the spin-off would also give it more flexibility to pursue acquisitions and explore new business areas. It will be structured as tax-free to shareholders and is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

VF, which has a market value of about $38 billion, said it would take charges for the deal without giving details.

Barclays was VF's financial adviser while Davis Polk and Wardwell provided legal counsel.