In line with its strategy to try to nearly double its volume to $3.1 billion by 2019, VF Corp.’s Timberland unit has teamed up with Omni United to launch a collection of co-branded tires under the Timberland and Radar tire brands.
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In a phone interview Tuesday, Timberland’s new brand president Stewart Whitney, who has been with the company for 14 years, said the deal was discussed three years ago. Reached at the Specialty Equipment Market Association automotive trade show in Las Vegas, he and Omni United’s president and chief executive officer G.S. Sareen said the licensing deal and partnership came together through a shared interest in innovation, performance and sustainability.
As part of a take-back recycling program, worn-out Timberland tires will be used for the outsoles of Timberland shoes. Engineers and chemists are working together to finesse the right compound that will be used for the recycled rubber soles. Noting that Timberland has used recycled fishing nets for nonwoven material for its apparel, Whitney said the Stratham, N.H.-based company plans to broaden its commitment to sustainability.
With an average retail of $200, Timberland tires will make its debut in April in major U.S. retail tire stores as well as through a new e-commerce platform. The branded tires will initially be made for small SUVs, and crossover vehicles that appeal to outdoor adventure Timberland types. Thirty-one styles for trucks and larger SUVs will be offered next year, and 25 styles for automobiles will be introduced in 2016.
In what would be a first for the tire industry, Timberland tires will be advertised in fashion magazines and other non-automotive magazines. “The tire industry hasn’t changed in forever. Basically, it is black tires which sometimes go flat. There is no sizzle or excitement to that,” said Sareen, a 21-year industry veteran. “It’s about time we got into something more interesting.”
Based in Singapore, Omni United aims to increase its U.S. business from $300 million to $500 million in the next two years, he said. “Most people don’t know what brand of tires they have on their cars. This will allow consumers to participate in the entire process.”