VF Corp., parent company of Vans, The North Face, Timberland, Dickies, Smartwool, Jansport, and other active lifestyle brands, has engaged with Dubai-based global retail conglomerate GMG to expand its retail network via mono-brand stores across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia (SEA) over the next five years.

The expanded distributorship and retail development agreement with GMG builds on over 12 years of partnership between the two companies. 

GMG operates 90 VF mono-brand stores in MENA and SEA and aims to roll out over 300 stores over the next five years. 

GMG will introduce VF brands across key Southeast Asian markets, open mono-brand stores and drive E-commerce business for selected VF brands.

In the MENA region, VF brands Vans, The North Face, and Timberland will expand their mono-brand footprint, focused primarily on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). VF brands will also expand their presence in North Africa, focusing on Egypt to reinforce its presence in the market. 

The agreement will oversee The North Face brand entering the North African market for the first time.

“Continuing our strategic expansion and adding new markets across SEA signifies a pivotal chapter in our successful long-standing partnership with VF Corp.,” commented Mohammad A. Baker, deputy chairman at GMG. “Aligned with our shared vision, commitment to exceptional consumer experiences, and the empowerment of active lifestyles, we anticipate continued achievements on this transformative journey together.”

GMG said in a release that the global retail market was valued at $28.3 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow to $37.7 billion by 2027.

“The MENA region is experiencing steady growth due to the growing population, strong spending power and a stronger affinity to high-quality international brands,” the company wrote. “On the other hand, the retail industry in SEA is poised to enter a new phase of growth, driven by the rise in disposable income, developing infrastructure, favorable business environments, and an increase in tourism.”

Baker added, “Looking ahead, our projections align with the remarkable growth potential of the SEA market, propelled by an expanding labor force, rising household incomes, and an expanding consumer base. Further, consumers’ increased focus on their health has prompted many individuals to put effort into leading healthier lives. As a result, athletic wear has risen in popularity, turning the region into a sports goods retail powerhouse with significant opportunities for businesses seeking to capitalize on its potential. With our history of innovation and customer-centricity, we look forward to setting new industry standards and pushing the boundaries.”

Martino Scabbia Guerrini, EVP, global chief commercial officer and president of Emerging Brands at VF Corp., offered his take on the expanded relationship.

“We are excited to enhance our long-term partnership with GMG, leveraging our combined strengths to unlock accelerated international growth opportunities for VF’s brands in the MENA and SEA regions,” said Guerrini. “The enhanced partnership will contribute to driving our brand’s regional marketplace strategies, deliver innovative solutions that elevate our go-to-market approach, and strengthen our presence in the region, allowing us to better serve local consumers’ needs.”

GMG noted that its Sports division boasted a diversified portfolio encompassing major international brands and home-grown products, including Sun & Sand Sports, Dropkick, Nu Athlete, Pedaliere, and Basketbolista. The company also counts Adidas, Nike, Columbia, New Era, Speedo, and Wilson among its distribution and retail partners.

GMG’s partnership with VF Corp. started in 2012 with the Timberland brand presence in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The partnership has expanded to include Vans, The North Face, and Timberland in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia (KSA) and South East Asia, with approximately 90 mono-brand stores.

Image courtesy GMG