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Wrangler and Lee Stores Closed, E-Commerce Still Operating

COVID-19 recovery is on the horizon but the pandemic's impact on sustainability, retail, product development and consumer buying patterns means the denim industry must evolve. Join Rivet on April 20th at 11 am ET for the COVID, One Year Later roundtable.

Kontoor Brands Inc., parent company of Wrangler and Lee, late Tuesday added its name to the vast list of brands and retailers that said they will temporarily close all owned and operated retail locations across North America and Europe in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Kontoor’s closing began Wednesday and the company anticipates the stores will remain shut through March 27, although that seems likely to be a short window given that many states and cities have shuttered malls and banned large public gatherings either beyond that or indefinitely.

Kontoor said impacted employees at these retail locations will receive pay and benefits during this time or any longer period as may be required by local governments. The company will reevaluate this temporary closure as the situation evolves.

“We believe it’s our responsibility to do our part to help slow the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing and other measures,” Scott Baxter, president and CEO of Kontoor Brands, said. “Closing our North American and European retail locations is an important, proactive step toward that effort. We are closely following the recommendations of public health officials and will continue to adjust our global response to ensure the well-being of our employees, consumers and communities.”

The store closures include the company’s VF Outlet, Lee-Wrangler Outlets, Lee-Wrangler Clearance Centers, Wrangler and Hometown Studio stores. The company’s owned direct-to-consumer channels, including lee.com and wrangler.com, remain operational and continue to serve consumers.

In addition to the North America and European retail location closures, Kontoor is taking significant measures consistent with advice from health authorities around the world to help curtail the spread of coronavirus at all its locations. These steps include implementation of global travel restrictions, remote work flexibility, and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols at Kontoor facilities, including offices, manufacturing locations and distribution centers.

Kontoor is actively assessing the operational and financial impacts of the coronavirus and will continue to provide updated information. The company’s revenue in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 28 decreased 10 percent to $653 million. For the full year, revenue was down 8 percent to $2.55 billion.

Net income in the quarter fell 45 percent to $28.75 million from $51.9 million in the year-ago period. For the year, net income declined 63 percent to $96.65 million from $263.07 million the prior year.

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