Fresh Out of Bankruptcy, Rockport Buys Reef From VF Corp.

VF Corp. continues to fine-tune its portfolio while recently bankrupt The Rockport Group looks to beef up its roster.

The companies announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement that will see Greensboro, N.C.-based VF offload the Reef brand to Newton, Mass.-based Rockport. (VF announced in August plans to relocate its headquarters to Denver.)

“Reshaping VF’s brand portfolio to deliver sustainable, long-term growth and superior returns to shareholders remains our top priority,” said VF president, chairman and CEO Steve Rendle. “Today’s announcement is another step toward delivering on the commitments outlined in our multiyear business strategy.”

Rockport, which filed for bankruptcy in May, was snapped up by its stalking-horse bidder, middle-market private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC, in July. The company, home to the Aravon, Dunham, Rockport and Cobb Hill collections, recently named footwear industry veteran Greg Ribbatt (previously CEO of Crocs) its new CEO.

“Reef is a powerful brand with deep authenticity and an incredibly loyal customer base,” Ribbatt said in a statement. “We are excited to work with the strong leadership team that has been guiding Reef through its brand evolution and resurgence. We believe in the team’s growth plans across consumer, product and geographic expansion.”

Reef will operate as an independent brand under The Rockport Group and will maintain its Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters.

The transaction, which is expected to close in October 2018, is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

VF Corp., which has moved aggressively in the past two years to reshape its portfolio, this year sold the Nautica brand and picked up performance athletic shoe maker Altra. Prior to that, in 2017, it acquired Dickies parent Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co. and shed its Licensed Sports Group. In 2016, VF closed the sale of its Contemporary Brands business, which included the 7 for All Mankind, Splendid and Ella Moss brands.

As of 10:15 a.m. ET, VF shares had slipped a modest 1.6 percent to $92.30.

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