What Does Timberland's $2B Sale Mean for Apparel's Sustainability?

What Does Timberland's $2B Sale Mean for Apparel's Sustainability?

Timberland boot - CC license by Avijeet_Sachdev

VF Corporation's $2 billion purchase of Timberland has the potential to put the resources of a major conglomerate behind Timberland's sustainability work, while spreading the outdoor gear company's deep-green expertise to VF's stable of businesses.

Timberland will be joining VF's other clothing and outdoor brands, including The North Face, Wrangler, Nautica and JanSport. But more than bringing another logo to the roster, Timberland brings a long commitment to and action on sustainability.

The company has shown significant year-over-year emissions reductions (36 percent in 2010, 38 percent in 2011), which it has achieved in part by improving energy efficient at retail stores and purchasing renewable energy.

Timberland is also working on responsible supply chain issues, with its an initiative to source leather exclusively from tanneries rated highly by the Leather Working Group, and an emphasis on purchasing organic cotton. And the company is working on greening the outdoor retail industry, through its Green Index product label. Referred to as a nutritional label for products, the Green Index lists greenhouse gas emissions related to products, chemical use, and what organic, recycled or renewable materials were used.

And Timberland has become known as a leader in -- if not the single best example of -- CSR reporting. The company has issued quarterly corporate social responsibility reports since 2008 (its first CSR report was issued in 2000), and last year won Ceres' Best Sustainability Report award for its efforts.

We've sent out interview requests to both companies to learn more about what their new relationship will mean for sustainability at both organizations. In the meantime, the companies issued the following statements about the news:

"VF will benefit from Timberland's rugged outdoor footwear expertise, international penetration in markets such as Japan, and leadership position in sustainability," said Eric Wiseman, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VF Corporation, in a statement.

Timberland CEO and President Jeffrey Swartz said, "Timberland is proud of its rich heritage, its track record of success and its reputation as a responsible and environmentally-conscious global citizen, all of which will be preserved and enhanced by becoming part of the VF family of brands."

The purchase, announced today, is expected to close in the third quarter, with VF offering $43 a share, a 43.4 percent premium over the stock's closing price last week. Timberlands shares went up $13.01, to $43, in afternoon trading today following the news, The Associated Press reported.

VF said it's aiming to increase revenue at Timberland 10 percent annually, and expects the purchase to add $700 million to its 2011 revenues. The addition of Timberland to VF's stable expand its "outdoor and action sports" offerings, making those businesses responsible for 50 percent of VF's total revenues this year, and expecting them to account for 60 percent of revenue by 2015.

Timberland boot - CC license by Avijeet_Sachdev