Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon on VF Corporation’s restructuring plans

Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon says it’s upsetting when jobs are shifted out of New Zealand – especially when you helped create them.

Moon’s comment follows news that US retail giant VF Corporation, which bought Icebreaker four year’s ago, plans a major restructure at the merino wool company’s Ponsonby-based office.

Icebreaker, which operates 16 shops in New Zealand, six in Australia and 15 in North America, was sold to VF Corporation, the owner of The North Face, Vans and Timberland brands in November 2017 for $288 million.

The Kiwi company, founded by Moon in 1995, is looking to shed up to 50 staff as its parent company looks to expand its global operations and expand its product offering from outdoor clothing to casual everyday wear and smart workwear.

As of October, the Icebreaker entity will cease trading and the business will be split into three new entities – two set to be based out of the Ponsonby head office and one in Switzerland.

VF Corporation was vague on details, and would not specify which divisions of the business would be moved offshore, but said jobs that were focused on the global business were among those that would be disestablished.

It said the restructure would simplify operations and allow roles to be “situated closer to the markets they support”.

Plans to cull between 40-50 local staff equates to more than a third of the retailer’s 112-person workforce.

“It’s upsetting when jobs are shifted out of New Zealand, especially when you helped create them,” Moon told the Herald.

“Thank goodness the majority of the roles are staying here, and also new ones created to further develop the NZA and China markets. Ultimately the goal of Icebreaker is to have a tectonic impact on the global outdoor market, using New Zealand merino as the superior choice to synthetics, and this will certainly amplify that.”

Despite expressing disappointment at local job losses, Moon said VF Corp was a great company and that its ambitious plans for Icebreaker globally were “exciting”.

At age 24, Moon stumbled across a merino farm in a series of coincidental events and was so inspired by the experience that he set out to create his own garments.

He started the business with $200,000 that he mustered up from friends, his parents and parents of friends to start the company.

The entrepreneur who now runs pet care business Animals Like Us pocketed $95 million from the sale of Icebreaker to VF Corporation.

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