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Icebreaker Deal Brings VF Corp. Deeper Into Natural Fiber Market

VF Corp.’s acquisition this week of Icebreaker Holdings Ltd. is aimed at increasing its position in what it sees as “the growing and under penetrated natural fiber category.”

The Icebreaker brand, a privately held company based in Auckland, New Zealand, was founded in 1995 on the belief that “nature always has a better solution.”

Icebreaker’s entire product assortment is based on merino wool, plant-based fibers and recycled fibers. Its “farm to garment” approach uses merino wool sourced from the sustainable and ethical farms in New Zealand.

“Bringing the Icebreaker brand into the VF portfolio is a special opportunity,” said Steve Rendle, chairman, president and chief executive officer of VF. “Its natural fiber focus is an ideal complement to our SmartWool brand, which also features Merino in its clothing and accessories. Together, the SmartWool and Icebreaker brands create an advantaged position for VF as a leader in the growing and underpenetrated natural fiber category. We will have unmatched capabilities that will strengthen our ability to create innovative and sustainable natural fiber products across our brand portfolio, especially in VF’s Outdoor and Workwear brands.”

[Read more about VF.’s CSR: VF Corp. Touts CSR Initiatives as Good for Business]

On a trailing 12-month basis, VF said Icebreaker Holdings generated about $150 million of revenue. The transaction, terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to be completed early in 2018 and the addition of the Icebreaker brand to VF’s portfolio is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings per share.

VF reported this week that revenue in the third quarter increased 5 percent to $3.5 billion, as net income fell 23 percent to $386.76 million.

“I founded Icebreaker to offer a natural choice to adventurers and to build a global brand from New Zealand,” said Jeremy Moon, founder of Icebreaker Holdings. “Our partnership with VF provides us with the largest platform in the world to tell our story, access new markets and reach new consumers at an accelerated pace. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our global Icebreaker brand team and for our wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool.”

Icebreaker has 340 full-time employees and its products are sold in 47 countries through wholesale channels and branded retail and e-commerce platforms.