Hanes Plummets as Champion Owner Announces a Business Review

(Bloomberg) — Hanesbrands Inc. shares plunged as much as 16% after the company reported a review of its business and a slump in sales at a time when everyone’s wearing sweatpants.

As consumers stay away from sporting events and college bookstores, the maker of Champion athletic gear saw revenue for the U.S. activewear segment decline 41% during the third quarter, the company said in a statement. Even excluding the C9 brand, which Target Corp. stopped selling in January, activewear sales declined 27% in its home market.

While the Champion brand specifically saw improvements from the prior quarter, it wasn’t enough to offset the slump. Hanes is now launching an “in-depth business review” to prepare a long-term growth strategy, the company said.

“With respect to the scope of the strategic assessment, we are evaluating our entire global portfolio,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Bratspies said on the company’s earnings call, his first since joining the apparel maker in August.

He said the review will look at everything from historical performance and costs to the supply chain and organizational structure. It will also examine product quality, direct-to-consumer capabilities and how the brand is perceived by the retailers who sell it.

“In an environment where the pace of change is accelerating, for us to be successful and reach our full potential, we must become a more agile, consumer-centric, growth-oriented company,” he said on the call, adding that the review — which already started on the cost-structure side — will last several years.

The review comes at a time when Hanesbrands sales are lagging, even as American consumers are largely leaning into comfortable at-home work attire. The company also owns apparel brands including Maidenform, Playtex and L’eggs. Even though Champion is still appealing to younger consumers, some of its other brands are “aging a little bit,” the CEO said, citing a need to reach a new demographic.

The Hanes report is another sign of trouble in the apparel market. Rival Columbia Sportswear Co. missed analysts’ estimates for sales and profit last week.

Hanesbrands will be boosting its advertising spend and also considering M&A where it makes sense. Going forward, Champion should see sequential sales growth in the fourth quarter, while its stronger innerwear segment will log another period of year-on-year gains, it said.

Shares, which were up 10% this year through Wednesday, erased the year’s gains on Thursday. The stock fell the most intraday since March.

(Adds details from conference call, shares trading)

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