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Brooke Sutherland

A Shopping List for VF

Slower growth argues for the owner of North Face to go back on the acquisition hunt.

VF Corp. is the company many consumers have never heard of whose brands may fill their closets.  

The $27 billion accumulator of retail and clothing labels counts North Face outerwear, Splendid premium T-shirts and Ella Moss dresses among its collection. It relies in large part on adding more apparel and accessories makers to its distribution system to keep revenue climbing. CEO Eric Wiseman has said acquisitions remain a top priority for VF -- but he's dawdled lately. 

VF hasn't publicly announced any deals for four years -- its longest drought ever, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It's last big takeover was the $2 billion purchase of boot maker Timberland in 2011, and  it dropped a pursuit of surf brand Billabong in 2013 after the company wanted more than VF thought it was worth.

The dearth of new deals is starting to make itself felt: Analysts are projecting VF's sales will rise just 2.8 percent this year, the smallest gain since 2009.