Why VF Corp. Just Sold Its Licensed Sports Group Business

Approximately one year after it said it was exploring strategic alternatives for its Licensed Sports Group business, VF Corp. confirmed that it has sold the division to e-tailer Fanatics Inc.

VF said Tuesday that it would turn the division over to 22-year-old Fanatics, which sells licensed sports apparel and merchandise, in a transaction that it expects to close in the second quarter of 2017.

The LSG division includes the Majestic brand, which supplies apparel and fanware through licensing agreements with U.S. and international professional sports leagues and teams. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The announcement came just days after VF unveiled its 2021 strategic growth plan, which includes a ramped-up focus on its top-performing brands: Vans, Timberland and The North Face.

The Greensboro, N.C.-based firm said it expects those three brands, as well as its international and direct-to-consumer businesses, to drive revenue gains at a five-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 to 6 percent. Meanwhile, earnings per share are forecast to grow at a double-digit pace — a five-year CAGR of 10 to 12 percent.

In a tough retail climate — marred by consumer shifts to online and rising brick-and-mortar costs — VF is one of many firms moving to right-size their portfolio via divestitures and/or store closures.

Over the past six months, Sears, JCPenney and Macy’s are among the department store chains to shutter doors. Meanwhile, Weyco Group announced in March its plans to place its kids’ brand Umi on the selling block, and Finish Line Inc. sold its JackRabbit business in January. In 2015, Wolverine World Wide Inc. started an initiative to shutter Stride Rite stores.

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