Starting out the week with a sharp kick to the gut is tough, but that’s what Greensboro received on Monday, August 13, when it was announced the corporate headquarters for VF was moving from Greensboro to Denver.
Denver reportedly offered an economic incentive of $27 million after VF approached them about moving. The move was evidently kept quiet, catching Greensboro off guard.
Greensboro does get a consolation prize of sorts, in that the jeanswear division is being spun off into a new company and it will stay headquartered here. VF is a $13 billion a year company. The denim division is about $2.5 billion.
Greensboro would certainly celebrate if a $2.5 billion-a-year company were moving its corporate headquarters here, but we are losing what will be a $11 billion-a-year company.
Some indication of the loss is in the estimated average salary of the VF folks being moved to Denver, which is $185,000 a year.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan, trying to put a positive spin on the deal, noted that the Lee division would be moving here from Kansas City, but it is doubtful if the folks being moved here are going to have an average salary of $185,000. Much of that average, no doubt, comes from the very top of the ladder. CEO Steve Rendle’s salary is listed a $10.4 million.
VF has reportedly leased 30,000 square feet of space at Revolution Mill for the Lee Division.
VF has been a great corporate citizen in Greensboro. It’s hard to find a major event in Greensboro where VF has not been a sponsor. They have put a lot of money back into the community. No doubt the jeanswear division, which doesn’t have a name yet, will continue that pattern, but they aren’t going to have nearly as much money to work with.
City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that when she heard the news, “I was kind of shocked.”
She said, “I understand about the outdoor clothing business moving to Denver. I don’t like it but I understand it. They have been a wonderful corporate citizen.”
Downtown Greensboro Inc. President Zack Matheny said, “Honestly, when you lose a major headquarters such as VF, it’s a kick in the gut.” But he added that it looked like in the end there would be a net increase in jobs for Greensboro.
He said, “We can see this as a wakeup call and figure out what we can do to work together to be competitive.”
He said that while Greensboro would likely end up not losing jobs, losing the prestige of having a Fortune 100 company here was tough.
VF was founded in 1899 in Pennsylvania as a company that made undergarments. VF acquired Blue Bell Inc. in 1986, which doubled its size, and moved to Greensboro in 1998. The brands currently owned by VF include Wrangler, Lee, Dickies, Red Kap, Altra, Eagle Creek, Eastpak, Icebreaker, JanSport, Kipling Europe, Lucy, The North Face, Napapijri, Reef, SmartWool, Timberland, Vans, and Kipling.
It does seem fitting that VF is leaving its jeanswear division in Jeansboro.