Brendan Sullivan
by Stephen Garner
Brendan Sullivan
Brendan Sullivan

VF Corporation has appointed Brendan Sullivan to the position of president of sportswear. He succeeds Karen Murray who is becoming a senior brand advisor to the sportswear division of the company.

Sullivan previously served as VF’s vice president of direct-to-consumer. In his new Sportswear leadership role, he is responsible for the global Nautica brand and the Kipling brand in North America. Sullivan will report to Curt Holtz, president of imagewear, jeans and sportswear brands.

“Brendan is a proven leader, with a track record of success in VF and the retail industry,” said Holtz. “He understands the power of the Nautica and Kipling Brands, and his experience in today’s dynamic in-store and online consumer environment provide him with an ideal skill set to lead and grow VF’s sportswear organization.”

Sullivan joined VF in 2007 as vice president of retail services. He led the direct-to-consumer business for VF’s contemporary and Timberland brands and later focused on VF’s direct-to-consumer European business. Prior to working at VF, Sullivan held various retail roles at leading companies including the Borders Group and L Brands, where he focused on operations, merchandising and marketing.

“We are deeply appreciative of Karen’s nearly 10-year leadership of the Nautica brand and her key role in leading our Sportswear organization, and are pleased that Karen will continue to serve the business as a senior brand advisor,” said Holtz. “Karen knows the brands, their heritage and the consumers we serve around the world. She understands the marketplace, and she has worked with her teams to position the brand for accelerated growth.”

Sharing a few insights with MR magazine, Murray confides, “Our new VFC CEO is building his own team and I’m stepping down, but staying on for a transitional period of time to work with Brendan Sullivan. It’s a fact that our 2016 repositioning of the Nautica brand did not resonate with our consumers. It was a sophisticated and subtle rendering at a time when heritage looks and big logos were suddenly booming. But I’m very proud of directing our quick shift back to classic heritage fashion, which is hitting the selling floors now at double the AURs and with double the sell-throughs. This fashion shift, coupled with our exclusive contract with musician/artist Lil Yachty, puts Nautica in a strong position for the rest of this year into 2018. I’m extremely proud of this quick change in strategy, the Nautica brand and the people who work there.  I look forward to directing my passion for this industry toward my next venture.”