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VF Corp. Wants to Get Out of the Licensed Sports Business

Apparel and footwear giant VF Corp., which owns The North Face, Vans, Timberland and Wrangler, among others, said it’s exploring strategic alternatives for its Licensed Sports Group (LSG) business.

A division of the company’s Imagewear coalition, LSG includes the Magestic brand and supplies apparel and fanware through licensing agreements with U.S. and international professional sports leagues, colleges and universities, as well as lifestyle brands.

“As active portfolio managers, we constantly assess the composition of our company to ensure VF’s portfolio is aligned with our strategic objectives and positioned to maximize growth and return to our shareholders,” Eric Wiseman, VF’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement released Friday. “In this respect, we are exploring options for our LSG business to position the organization to continue its success and achieve its future potential.”

The news is not a complete surprise.

VF recently reported a challenging fourth quarter and revenue for its Imagewear coalition reached $1.1 billion in 2015, with LSG representing about half of that amount. But Imagewear, which produces workwear for the industrial, service and government sectors, posted a 13 percent decline in revenue in the quarter, down to $259 million. Low single-digit growth in LSG was offset by more than 20 percent lower revenue in the workwear business, due primarily to the impact of considerably lower oil and gas exploration.