The outdoor and action sports unit of VF Corporation lifted its sales by 60 percent for the first quarter. They were inflated by the acquisition last year of the Timberland and SmartWool brands, which added $356 million for the quarter, but the rise also included organic growth of 15 percent.
While the turnover of The North Face (TNF) jumped by 14 percent, Timberland's turnover increased only weakly in the period. The brand's sales were down slightly in North America, as the weather affected sales of winter boots. It also earned less royalty income due to the termination of a former apparel license. To make up for this, an executive in charge of TNF apparel in Europe has been placed in charge of Timberland's apparel, to be relaunched next year. Sales of the Earthkeepers range and the Pro Series continued to do well.
International sales, which make up more than half of Timberland's turnover, displayed low single-digit expansion in Europe and strong double-digit growth in Asia, in terms of constant currencies. Karl Heinz Salzburger, vice president in charge of international sales for the VF group, noted that Italy was Timberland's largest European market, and that the country's economic woes had weighed on the brand's performance in the region, but claimed that Timberland was gaining market share.
The operating income of the outdoor and action sports unit jumped by 40 percent to $202 million for the quarter. Excluding Timberland, the unit's operating income increased by 28 percent and the operating profit margin was up by 2 percentage points to 20.3 percent.
Timberland should suffer a loss of about $30 million for the three months, as occurs with such a seasonal business (more in our Outdoor Industry Compass).