The planned VF Corp. Jeanswear spinoff has been given a name, Kontoor Brands Inc., which the apparel company said Thursday is a play on the word contour.
Kontoor will be based in Greensboro at 400 N. Elm St, and operate the Lee, Rock & Republic and Wrangler brands, along with the VF Outlet business.
The rest of VF will be based in Denver and positioned primarily as offering outdoors lifestyle brands.
The spinoff is slated to be completed by June 30 with Kontoor operating as a publicly traded company.
“In choosing a name for the new company, it was important for us to select something that serves as an umbrella for our iconic Jeanswear brands and provides us with the opportunity to advance our portfolio in the future,” Scott Baxter, Kontoor’s chief executive, said in a statement.
“The selected name was inspired by the idea of a perfect fit, which speaks to the rich legacy and storied history of our brands. This name establishes a strong foundation for our future growth as a global leader in the denim and apparel categories.”
“While one might instinctively react to the unusual nature of the name, one has to remember that any new name for a brand or company that is to be distinctive, differentiated and unique is likely going to take a bit of getting used to,” said Roger Beahm, executive director of the Center for Retail Innovation at Wake Forest University School of Business.
“Creating positive, familiar associations, such as Kontoor Brands Inc. is attempting to do by associating the new name with the company’s ‘perfect fit’ products, is a goal when creating a name.”
Beahm said it’s “good to remember that Kontoor is not necessarily going to be used as the brand name for any of the company’s consumer-facing products.”
“There’s a clear difference between the company name, which has no equity at this point, and its brands, including Wrangler and Lee, which already have strong brand equity with consumers.”
Kontoor also will operate in a 43,000-square-foot leased space in Revolution Mill. It is a historic textile mill that has been transformed into a mixed-use campus that includes commercial, residential, restaurant and studio space. Kontoor will have merchandising, design, product development and innovation units based there.
The company said additional information, such as Kontoor’s board of directors’ composition, additional executive leadership members, stock symbol and strategic vision, “will be shared before the completion of the separation.”
For more information regarding the proposed separation, go to www.TwoGlobalLeaders.com.
VF announced Aug. 12 plans to move its global headquarters to Denver by early 2019, as well as base its jeans and outlet business in the city and moving its Lee brands to Greensboro from a suburb of Kansas City.
VF said there will 125 Kontoor employees based in the new space beginning in March, including merchandising, design and product development and innovation units. The company has signed a five-year lease.
Kontoor will have about 25,000 employees globally.
Just like R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (temporarily to Atlanta), Lowe’s Cos. Inc. (from North Wilkesboro to Mooresville/Lake Norman) and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. (to Charlotte with most senior leadership), VF has decided its headquarters should be where there is a strong cultural fit and where it believes it can attract and retain the best talent.
In each instance, respective local economic and elected officials appeared to have had little chance of persuading the companies to stay put.
The jobs implications for VF could be a relative wash with total VF and Kontoor employment in Greensboro remaining “at about current levels,” said Steve Rendle, VF’s chairman, chief executive and president.
Currently, VF has about 1,300 employees in Greensboro, “which includes associates at VF’s world headquarters and at our Jeanswear location,” spokeswoman Vanessa McCutchen said.
For fiscal 2019, VF is projecting the jeans company would generate $2.5 billion in annual revenue and low single-digit growth, leaving VF with $11 billion and high single-digit growth.