US clothing giant VF Corporation to buy New Zealand's Icebreaker

Both Rob Fyfe and Jeremy Moon have committed themselves to continuing roles with Icebreaker.

US-based VF Corporation will buy merino clothing maker Icebreaker, the two companies said in separate statements. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

VF Corporation has a market capitalisation of about $US28 billion and its portfolio includes The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool, Vans, Wrangler and Lee. In its third-quarter result, the company forecast its 2017 revenue would be approximately $US12.1 billion.

Icebreaker had annual sales of $220 million, of which 86% were in offshore markets. Its own outlets and e-commerce sales make up 32% of sales, according to the company's latest statement.

Bringing Icebreaker into the VF portfolio is a "special opportunity," Steve Rendle, VF chairman, president and chief executive said. "Together, the SmartWool and Icebreaker brands create an advantaged position for VF as a leader in the growing and underpenetrated natural fibre category," he said.

According to Icebreaker, the deal creates an expanded opportunity for the New Zealand merino industry. "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," Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon said.

NZ Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge chief executive noted VF has also had a long-term commitment to the New Zealand Merino industry through its investment in SmartWool and NZ Merino has worked with SmartWool in areas such as sustainability and social responsibility.

"Today we are seeing record demand and prices for New Zealand merino wool ... 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," he said.

Icebreaker chairman Rob Fyfe said it is the best opportunity for Icebreaker "to realise our ambition to become a $1 billion brand." Both Messrs Fyfe and Moon have committed to continuing roles with Icebreaker.


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