The issues that are plaguing VF Corporation appear to be a non-issue for The North Face, the conglomerate’s hot hand in it’s “Outdoor Coalition”. Last week, we reported that VFC was forced to revise its Q2 guidance downward on inventory hangovers. (See SEW 0324)

It looks like most of those issues are in the auto-replenishment business in the jeans and intimates categories. The company did say that sell-throughs were strong, but re-orders were slow in coming as retailer s cleaned up inventory left over from a sluggish Spring.

The one bright spot VFC pointed to was the TNF business, which was living up to its pre-season success and should see growth in the 20% to 30% range for the first half. ODC business was up 15% in Q1.

In an exclusive interview last week with The North Face president & CEO, Mike Egeck, SPORTS EXECUTIVE WEEKLY found that the good news keeps getting better as TNF sees back-half 2003 backlog jumping in excess of 30%. Egeck indicated that futures made up about 75% of total sales, and saw that percentage increasing.

In discussing the premium outdoor brand’s move into new channels of distribution as hinted in VFC’s Q1 conference call, Egeck said the Department Store business is about 4.0% of total sales and he doesn’t see it growing to more than 10% long-term.

The brand currently services over 1,600 doors for more than 1,000 accounts in the U.S.

The CEO said he is quite pleased that former Woolrich Sale & Marketing VP Todd Yates is on board to head up the company’s business development efforts. Egeck indicated that Yates would be spear-heading TNF brand extensions while pursuing potential acquisitions in the outdoor space.

In addressing the Gart/TSA merger, the CEO said the two have “somewhat different models”, but was working close with both Doug Morton and Elliott Kerbis on a solid plan for the post-merger model. TNF currently has a broader mix of product at Gart and started testing a few TSA stores in Spring 2003.

>>>Brand strength, built on quality product and limited distribution, enables TNF to capture futures while others are forced to count on fill-in…