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China to fuel VF Corporation brands

Multibrand fashion group VF Corporation sees Asia – and especially China – as the primary driver of growth in the years ahead.

VF Corporation brands include Vans, Kipling, Lee and The North Face.

The US-headquartered company says it is focused on expanding geographically to take advantage of its scale in markets around the world.

“The Asia Pacific (APAC) market, and in particular China, represent robust growth opportunities for VF, according to the company’s business lead,” the company revealed in an online newsletter.

“Asia Pacific is an important region for business development and remains a priority focus for the company,” said Aidan O’Meara, VF’s Asia Pacific president. “Our plan is to continue to focus on locally relevant innovation, further invest in demand creation and leverage our scale and capabilities as ‘One VF’ to fully capitalise on the growth opportunities and take market share.”

VF’s APAC business continues to expand. In 2015, currency neutral revenues in the region were up 10 per cent reaching US$1.2 billion.

China, which accounts for roughly half of APAC revenue, has seen consistent, strong growth from the country’s three largest brands: The North Face, Lee and Vans. In particular, Lee in China has experienced consistently strong growth over the years for the company, with product innovations driving recent success. 

Denim leads the charge in China

VF brands currently maintain presences in more than 170 Chinese cities. And, that number is expected to increase in coming years.

“We see growth potential in a market with increasing affluence, a burgeoning middle class and increasing sophistication and demand for quality jeanswear,” O’Meara said.

The company sees a competitive edge in the market, particularly at Lee. VF launched Lee as the company’s first owned business in China in 1995.

“Statistics show that while jeans ownership is about eight pairs per person in North America,” O’Meara said. “In China, it is less than one pair per person, and if you look at India, there is still a lot of room as jeans ownership averages about three pairs per person.”

O’Meara noted there was a time when many jeans manufacturers rested on their laurels. However, as competition intensified, many consumers lost excitement with the products available on the market, opening a door for an innovative new product.

Lee saw this opportunity and put its research and development to the test. The resulting JadeFusion Denim has been a resounding success and garnered a Bronze Innovation Edison Award in the Materials Science category.

JadeFusion immediately accounted for 13 per cent of China’s denim sales in its first season on the market in the spring and summer of 2015.

“Lee exemplifies VF’s continuous innovation as one of the key strategies which differentiate us from our competitors,” O’Meara said.

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