Williamson-Dickie, the family-owned workwear company founded nearly 100 years ago in Fort Worth, is being sold but it’s not leaving its hometown.
The maker of Dickies is being acquired by VF Corp., the big apparel manufacturer based in Greensboro, N.C., that owns several other top brands including Vans, North Face, Timberland and Wrangler. VF will pay $820 million in cash for the company, VF announced Monday.
Williamson-Dickie, founded in 1922, will continue to operate in Fort Worth where it has more than 1,000 employees at its Vickery Boulevard headquarters and a distribution center. And spokeswoman Rachel Courts said there will be no impact on the naming rights deal under which the new 14,000-seat multipurpose arena under construction at the Will Rogers Memorial Center will become known as Dickies Arena.
Philip Williamson, chairman and CEO at Williamson-Dickie whose great-grandfather was one of its founders, will continue to lead the company after the merger is completed, which is expected to occur in the fourth quarter.
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“Over the years, many companies were kind of knocking on our doors expressing interest in acquiring Williamson-Dickie and our portfolio of brands. None of those companies were the right fit for us for many reasons. VF has proven themselves to be a different story,” Williamson said on a conference call following the merger announcement.
“Our two companies fit together naturally, because they embrace and represent the same values, standards and commitment to quality,” he said. “We believe that by combining our brands into VF’s portfolio and leveraging each other strengths will unlock many new exciting opportunities in months and years ahead.”
According to the company website, Williamson-Dickie was founded when C.N. Williamson and E.E. “Colonel” Dickie bought a company called U.S. Overall. The pair added khaki pants and children’s playsuits to the product line and began to expand.
During World War II, Williamson-Dickie made U.S. military uniforms and in the 1950s its Dickies workwear expanded to oilfields in the Middle East. Today, its products are sold in more than 100 countries. And Dickies is also known in North Texas for making the clothing for Big Tex at the Texas State Fair in Dallas.
In addition to Dickies, the company also owns the Walls, Kodiak and WorkRite Uniform brands. The company owns retail stores in Fort Worth, Odessa, San Marcos and outside Houston, and has a manufacturing plant in Uvalde.
VF’s chief financial officer Scott Roe told Wall Street analysts that executives expect Williamson-Dickie to contribute $1 billion in annual revenue by 2021, and that VF hopes to double the company’s operating margins in that time. The executives did not say whether they anticipate any job reductions as part of the integration.
“The acquisition of Williamson-Dickie creates a $1.7 billion workwear powerhouse that will now serve an even broader set of consumers and industries around the world.,” said VF’s chief executive officer Steve Rendle.