Address: Park Road East, Calverton, Nottingham.
Date of birth: 1899 in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA.
Nationality: If it makes jeans, it’s got to be American.
Status: VF Northern Europe is the offspring of US parent VF Corporation,
a quoted company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Background: VF’s initials stand for Vanity Fair. This was the name of
the Pennsylvania mill where John Barbey and his son manufactured fine
silk garments and lingerie up until the 1920s. After a US embargo on
silk was introduced in 1941, the company switched to making clothes from
nylon, the new wonder fabric.
It was not until the late 1960s that the company began making sportswear
and jeans. This expanded when it acquired H.D. Lee in 1969 and, in 1986,
it purchased Blue Bell, which manufactured Wrangler jeans.
In the UK, the combined jeans sales for Lee and Wrangler lag behind
According to Mintel, VF’s market share is around 13.5 per cent, compared
with 21.5 per cent for Levi’s.
Between 1996 and 1998, Lee lost almost a third of its turnover and tried
to arrest the slide with a pounds 10 million pan -European campaign
targeting younger consumers. It also introduced a range of sub-brands,
such as Ms Lee and Leesures khakis. In April, VF announced a pounds 6
million pan-European roll-out of another youth-focused Lee brand, Denim
With dollars 5.6 billion in worldwide sales, VF is the world’s largest
apparel company, also making underwear, knitwear and sportswear. Other
brands in the stable include JanSport, EastPak and The North Face.
Key brands: Ruth Gresswell is consumer brand manager for Wrangler and
Lee. Tim Henshall is UK marketing controller. Contact 0115-965 5000.
Media agency: Simeon Adams runs the account at CIA Medianetwork. Contact
Annual media spend: VF Northern Europe’s annual spend on Wrangler and
Lee is usually pounds 1.5 million but there has been no activity this
It is unlikely there will be a big push until the end of the year.
According to AC Nielsen MMS, Wrangler spent just pounds 38,000 between
April 1999 and May 2000, mostly on press.
Media used: None at present. A TV campaign for Wrangler by Abbott Mead
Vickers will be tested in the UK in October/November, with the
possibility of a European roll-out. The brand is currently sponsoring
late-night cult movies at Odeon cinemas.
Lee’s last major push was the pounds 10 million pan-European ’feel good’
campaign for Denim 42. The theme will be developed later this year,
using outdoor, cinema, the style press and TV.