NEW YORK — Soaring sales of outdoor apparel and equipment helped VF Corp. to an 18.3 percent net gain in the first quarter.
The Greensboro, N.C.-based apparel giant reported earnings of $122.9 million, or $1.07 a share, for the three months ended April 2, besting Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $1.02 a share. In the year-ago quarter, VF had earnings of $103.9 million, or 93 cents a share.
Sales for the period increased 9.1 percent to $1.56 billion from $1.43 billion. The firm’s outdoor apparel and equipment segment, which includes The North Face, Vans, JanSport and Eastpak, jumped 126.6 percent to $282.3 million from $124.6 million.
The company said North Face sales rose 18 percent during the quarter and the brand continues to show strength, with fall bookings up 27 percent in the U.S. and 19 percent in Europe.
“Our outdoor business is really on a roll despite the fact that the overall outdoor action sports market is relatively flat,” Mackey McDonald, chairman and chief executive officer, said during a conference call with analysts.
McDonald said North Face’s growth has been organic, stemming from increased buying on the part of the brand’s traditional sport specialty store customers.
Sales in the company’s imagewear segment rose 8.2 percent to $187.2 million, getting a boost from the January acquisition of Holoubek.
“The acquisition of Holoubek has positioned us as one of Harley Davidson’s key partners,” said McDonald. “We are also benefiting from strength in our baseball business.”
Sales of jeanswear, the company’s largest segment, remained essentially flat, declining 0.2 percent to $706.7 million. McDonald characterized the jeans market as “quite stable” during the call.
“We hear a lot about the buzz in the premium end of the market, but this is a very small piece of the business at retail in total,” said McDonald.
According to McDonald, jean sales to the firm’s largest mass channel customers have grown, with shipments of Wrangler jeans up 18 percent for the quarter.
McDonald acknowledged that cooler spring weather had resulted in weaker sales in the department store channel. However, the recent spate of mergers and acquisitions in that channel could have an even greater effect on sales.
“I see things on the hanger and I’m, like, ‘I never knew that color worked on me.’ It’s things you necessarily wouldn’t choose to wear, but once you put them on, you see why Janie is who Janie is." — Lily Collins on working with former "Mad Men" costume designer, Janie Bryant on creating looks for her role as Celia Brady's in Amazon series, "The Last Tycoon." 📸@jilliansollazzo #wwdeye
EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Rutson has been tapped to Build New American Fashion Group. The parent of Joie, Equipment and Current/Elliott hired the merchant to rev up its brands and expand its portfolio into designer, beauty and lifestyle categories. Read more on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion
Michael Kors' $1.3B Jimmy Choo deal has the company squaring off with Coach Inc. as both seek to build American powerhouses. Coach bought Stuart Weitzman in 2015 and Kate Spade just two weeks ago, but Michael Kors' acquisition may be putting pressure on its rival in the new push for scale. #wwdnews (📷: George Chinsee)
Meet actress Lucy Boynton, who plays opposite Naomi Watts in the recently released Netflix series "Gypsy." Boynton stopped by WWD to talk about her upcoming projects and her nomadic lifestyle. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)