LONDON — Against a background of Brexit squabbling and uncertainty about the U.K.’s future trade deals, VF Corporation is giving London a thumbs-up, with plans to open a business hub for its brands in Soho.
The hub will be based at Axtell Soho, a new building on the corner of Warwick and Beak streets. It will host a selection of VF products and brand showrooms as well as digital and design spaces. The aim is to “immerse” buyers and designers alike in the VF brand, the company said.
VF, which owns labels including The North Face, Vans and Timberland, said it signed a 10-year lease for the Axtell Soho building. It said it hopes Axtell will become an important business hub for VF and its portfolio of brands in London and elsewhere in Europe. The company plans to move into the new building in the late spring.
Martino Scabbia Guerrini, VF EMEA group president said: “We would like to bring the most advanced and innovative expression of our brands to the heart of London to strengthen trade relationships and fuel our growth in the U.K. market.”
He added that the close interaction between the Soho hub and the VF brand stores in Regent Street, Oxford Street and Carnaby Street will also “create the opportunity to amplify and evolve the engagement with consumers.”
The new building spans 15,000 square feet and was developed by Estates & Agency Group. It was designed by the architects Darling Associates with three new floors, external terraces and a landscaped roof garden while retaining its original art deco features, according to the company.
VF Corp. has been forging ever closer ties with the U.K. In late October, Timberland named London designer Christopher Raeburn to the new post of global creative director. As reported, Raeburn will work closely with each brand team to create a collection of Timberland footwear, apparel and accessories and his first full collection across men’s and women’s wear will be for fall-winter 2020.
VF Corp. is also the latest international firm to give London a vote of confidence amid the Brexit turmoil. The Soho hub announcement comes on the heels of Chanel’s decision to shift its corporate headquarters to London, while Apple has secured 500,000 square feet of office space at the newly redeveloped Battersea Power Station.
The property division of Berkshire Hathaway has teamed with high-end real estate agents Kay & Co. to break into the U.K. property market and Google is building a 1 billion-pound London headquarters at the new King’s Cross development. Earlier this year Facebook moved into new, bigger offices in Fitzrovia, creating an extra 800 jobs.