VF TO BUY EASTPAK FROM SUNBEAM

NEW YORK — VF Corp. said Monday it will buy the Eastpak backpack business from Sunbeam Corp. for an undisclosed sum.
The deal gives VF, which through its JanSport unit already has the largest backpack business in the world, a stronger position in Europe, and diversifies its U.S. distribution channels. Eastpak, based in Lowell, Mass., will be rolled into the VF’s Appleton, Wisc.-based JanSport division under JanSport president Paul Delorey.
“Eastpak’s European presence is a perfect complement to JanSport’s superb position in the U.S. market,” Mackey McDonald, VF president and chief executive, said in a statement. Dolorey also said that the retail distribution strategies of the two companies complement each other.
Combined sales of the two companies are expected to exceed $200 million this year, VF said.
Quoting a proprietary report commissioned by JanSport, a spokeswoman for the firm said that, during the trailing six months, JanSport had a 35 percent unit share of backpacks sold to consumers between the ages of 12 and 22, while Eastpak had an 11 percent share.
The JanSport brand is sold mainly at sporting goods, outdoor, department and specialty stores, as well as the Wolf Creek brand through the mass channel.
Eastpak makes backpacks, duffel bags, waistpacks, briefcases and messenger bags.
“There is going to be some overlap with JanSport and some overlap with Wolf Creek, but basically we are filling out the middle price points,” said the JanSport spokeswoman.
Sunbeam, based in Boca Raton, Fla., makes household appliances under the Sunbeam brand and camping gear under the Coleman name. Based in Greensboro, N.C., VF, one of the largest apparel makers in the world, owns the Lee, Wrangler, Vanity Fair, Vassarette and Healthtex brands, among others.
On the New York Stock Exchange Monday, VF shares lost 1/2 to close at 25; Sunbeam shares fell 1/8 to 4.

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