To start by stating the obvious, the five-year growth plans unveiled by apparel giant VF Corporation are aggressive – very aggressive indeed.

Revenue growth of US$5bn by 2015 at an annual growth rate of 10%, 15% annual growth in international and direct-to-consumer revenues, $5 earnings per share growth…these figures represent the kind of momentum that VF has been unable to register in the past few years, partly at least hindered by the recession. So why should they be feasible now?

Company chairman and CEO Eric Wiseman has been at pains to set out a comprehensive strategy that appears to cover all the bases necessary for strong growth: investment, retail expansion, innovation and acquisitions.

Central to the company’s growth projections is its portfolio of outdoor and action sports brands, most notably The North Face and Vans, which have the sizeable responsibility of providing $3bn of that $5bn revenue growth.

Outdoor push
This bullish projection is based partly on past performance: outdoor and action sports revenues have grown on average by 17% over the past five years, and The North Face and Vans – which together account for 75% of the sector’s revenues – are predicted to continue that spurt with growth of 16% and 13% respectively to 2015.

The result, if it all works out, will be that outdoor and action sports provide at least half of the company’s total revenues by 2015.

Other segments will have to pull their weight too: a combination of sportswear, imagewear and contemporary brands are scheduled to add an extra $1bn, with jeanswear, led by the Wrangler and Lee brands, contributing a similar figure.

The plans for growth here tap into another key strand of VF’s plans: international sales – revenue increases in Asia, Europe and Latin America are central to jeanswear securing that extra $1bn.

More broadly, international revenues are expected to grow by 15% a year, fuelled by Asia becoming VF’s fastest-growing market with revenues of $1.3bn by 2015 – representing an eye-watering annual growth rate of 28%.

But even established international markets such as Europe and the Americas will have to sharpen up their act, and are targeting annual growth of 11%.

Capital expenditure will be another important part of VF’s future, in order to secure that 15% increase in direct-to-consumer revenues.

Like many other businesses, VF is conscious of the greater control (and potentially fatter margins) to be secured by increasing its own retail presence around the world – and will open more than 700 new stores in the next five years, nearly doubling its retail footprint to about 1,500 stores.

At the same time, the company is targeting a tripling of e-commerce sales to nearly $400m.

Acquisition strategy
The spending won’t stop there. In particular, that planned revenue growth for outdoor and action sports can’t simply be organic, however well Vans and The North Face perform.

Wiseman referred to this explicitly, telling investors: “Our priority for cash flow continues to be acquisitions, primarily in the outdoor and action sports category.”

Meanwhile, the final growth driver for VF is slightly more nebulous than the rest: innovation.

Wiseman simply said that innovation would be a “significant” growth driver, but was scarcely precise in setting out exactly what this might mean: “We will foster a global culture of innovation across brands and functions, supported by new processes, new skills and talent, and new collaborative networks to accelerate the pace of breakthrough product introductions.”

But the net result is what looks like a comprehensive growth strategy, which has identified key areas in terms of products and markets, and is relatively clear in how it expects those targets to be realised.

Will it secure $5bn in extra revenue, and $5 in earnings per share growth, within just five years? It will take an almost 100% hit rate in terms of those targets – and none will be more crucial than the area of outdoor and action sports.