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Timberland family sells 60-year-old business

By Rashmi Kumar

The family behind outdoor clothes and footwear maker Timberland has sold the business to VF Corporation, bringing to an end the Swartz family’s 60 years of involvement in the company.

The sale of the family business, completed on 14 September, values Timberland at around $2.5 billion (€1.8 billion).

In a statement, the family said that it chose VF, whose portfolio of more than 30 global brands includes Lee, the North Face and Red Kap, as it believes the clothing conglomerate will “protect the brand’s unique culture and DNA”.

Third-generation Jeffrey Swartz, former president and chief executive of Timberland, said: “While our ownership structure has changed, what makes Timberland unique and special will not. This is the right time to take the Timberland brands to the next level, and VF – which is as passionate about building brands as we are – is the right partner for us.”

Swartz will leave the company to “pursue other interests”, the statement said, and his position will be filled by Patrik Frisk, who has been president of VF’s outdoor and action sports division since 2009.

Following the change in management, VF takes charge of a business – famous for its mountaineering and hiking footwear – that has been controlled by the Swartz family ever since Nathan Swartz began his shoemaking career and purchased a stake in the Abington Shoe Company in 1952.

A few years later, he bought the entire company, renamed it Timberland and involved his family in the business. Son Sidney was chairman of the company until its sale.

Timberland, which had 2010 revenues of $1.4 billion, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but because of the company’s dual class share structure, the Swartz family held more than 50% of the voting power.