Q&A: Does Timberland Franchise in the UK?

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Always wanted to open your own Timberland store right here in the UK? Perhaps you’re searching for a retail franchise and want to know if the iconic shoe brand has any opportunities. Here’s more info.

Timberland is one of the most iconic brands in streetwear fashion. Since it was established in 1928 by Nathan Swartz, it has grown into a multi-million-dollar brand, with around 490 stores across the world. Revenues generated from the sale of its iconic Yellow Boots, jackets and other clothing items exceeded $3 billion overall by 2019, and the brand is showing no signs of slowing down after an incredible 92 years in operation.

Ever wondered what it would be like to run your own Timberland store? In this article, we’re going to look at whether the established American brand has any franchise opportunities, and what you might need to become part of the Timberland group.

Does Timberland franchise?

Yes, Timberland does franchise. Franchising has been a big part of its international expansion strategy since its merger with VF Corporation. In 2019, Timberland announced it was planning to open an additional 30 stores in 2020, with many locations run by franchise partners. While many of these new store openings have been delayed by the pandemic, Timberland is clearly interested in using franchising to fuel its ongoing international expansion.

Timberland’s current UK master franchise partner, Seventy Three Retail, has been solely responsible for its franchised stores here since 2016. However, the retail brand went into administration at the start of 2020, closing half of its Timberland stores as part of a CVA, leaving just 12 locations open. While Timberland isn’t openly seeking any new franchise partners, Seventy Three Retail’s struggles may present new opportunities for other investors in the UK.

History of Timberland

The Timberland franchise has come a long way since its beginnings in 1928. Back then, it was founded by an Eastern European immigrant that was chasing the American Dream in Massachusetts. Nathan Swartz, who came from a family of shoemakers in Odessa, wanted to take his cut from the economic boom of the roaring twenties.

Until 2011, the company remained a family-owned business. Its last CEO was Jeffery Swartz, the grandson of Nathan. He inherited the business from his father, Sidney, who was the man behind the iconic Yellow Boot in 1973.

It didn’t take long for the Yellow Boot to establish itself as a cult favourite. The trademark shoe – which was designed as an outdoors shoe for New Englanders – became a fashion symbol that was rocked by American hip-hop artists in the 90s.

Today, Timberland boots are worn by the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Pharrell and Rihanna. This seems worlds away from when Sidney Swartz sold his first 600 pairs to an Italian shoe salesman in 1973, who then came back two months later demanding more pairs.

The Timberland franchise remains proud of the timeless look of its signature boots. The brand’s Senior Footwear Product Director, Donald Desalvio said:

“Developing trends come and go in the fashion business, but there will always be consumers who love, want and appreciate what this boot has to offer in terms of aesthetics”.

In 2011, Timberland merged with the VF Corporation and is now overseen by CEO Steve Rendle. At the time, shares were valued at $43 dollars each. Since then, share prices have jumped as the company has entered new markets and bolstered its brand. Considering VF Corporation’s success in running Dickies, The North Face and Vans stores, it’s hardly surprising that it has produced the same business results at Timberland.

Starting a Timberland franchise unit

It’s tricky to give exact figures about how much you’ll need to become a franchisee with Timberland. If we look at its current international franchise partners, the retail franchise seems to favour partnering with established retail businesses that have the skills to help the brand flourish in a new market. But if we look at requirements for other international franchisees, we can get an idea of the criteria you may need to meet if you want to start a Timberland franchise unit.

Becoming a Timberland franchisee

While Timberland doesn’t offer much guidance on what it’s looking for in new franchisees, it’s easy to see its type. The brand favours giving franchise agreements to established companies that have experience in the retail sector of their domestic market. Timberland also seems to prefer using one master franchisee that can oversee the whole of one country or region, meaning you’ll need to have the experience and capital to take on such a responsibility.

How much you need to invest

The investment fees will vary depending on the region you’re investing in, the cost of your chosen premises and the size of the store you plan on opening. As most of Timberland’s franchisees operate all of the stores in their chosen territory, you’ll also need to be able to invest enough to cover the cost of opening multiple locations, potentially over a very short period of time.

In 2011, the average franchise fee for a new European franchisee was €12,000 (£10,970), alongside an overall investment of around €350,000 (£320,000) and a 3% advertising fee. You’ll also need to be able to fund at least €70,000 of the investment from your own pocket and prove you have sufficient working capital to keep yourself going.

What you get for your investment

You’ll get the chance to become part of a successful international brand, operating units that generate an average turnover of €1,000,000 (£914,000).

Invest in a fashion franchise

While it might be a little tricky to get involved with the Timberland brand if you’re lacking in experience and budget, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your franchising dreams. If you’re interested in opening your very own retail franchise, we’ve got options for you. Or, if you’re interested in another sector, or just want to explore your options, you can browse our UK franchise directory to find your ideal match.

>> Read more articles on the Fashion sector

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