Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy is about to get a lot stronger.
VF Corporation, the Fortune 250 holding company for The North Face, JanSport, Smartwool, and other brands, announced that its moving its global headquarters to Denver, bringing 800 high-paying jobs to the metro.
“Colorado is an area with an unrivaled heritage and culture of outdoor and activity-based lifestyles, as well as a thriving business environment,” said Steve Rendle, VF’s chairman, president and CEO, in a news release. “It is a great strategic fit for our business, and we are excited to be relocating our headquarters and several brands to the metro Denver area next year. We believe that the creation of our new headquarters in the area will help us to unlock collaboration across our outdoor brands, attract and retain talent, and accelerate innovation.”
The Board of Directors also plans to separate the company into two independent, publicly-traded companies: VF Corp, a global apparel and footwear powerhouse, and a yet-to-be named company to hold its jeans and outlet businesses in North Carolina.
Out of the 800 employees moving beginning next spring, about 85 are members of the company’s U.S.-based senior leadership team. And over the next two years, brands including The North Face, JanSport, Smartwool, Eagle Creek, and Altra will relocate to join VF Corp in Denver.
Those leaders include Travis Campbell, newly named the general manager of The North Face, Americas, and Jen McLaren, newly named president of Smartwool.
VF Corp already has a presence in Colorado, with Smartwool being in Steamboat Springs and Boulder.
Luis Benitez, director of the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, said that the move is a huge win for OREC overall. Because VF Corp is keeping some of its business in North Carolina, there will be a net zero job loss in the east. He said it’s important to note that the move is not stealing from the sister state, which also is working hard to strengthen outdoor recreation economy.
“This is growing the overall outdoor industry economy, and not just taking from one state to make another state better,” Benitez said.
He said the VF Foundation—the charitable, scientific, and educational arm of the company—is also moving to Denver, using $27 million in job growth tax credits that will be matched dollar to dollar within the foundation and earmarked for outdoor initiatives.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in the news release said, “We are thrilled to welcome a new partner that embodies the values that define Colorado. VF’s move underscores the critical driver that the outdoor recreation industry plays in our economy where business meets lifestyle.”