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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 13:12 GMT
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Timberland buys 'green' company
Howies hooded top (picture: Howies)
Howies says it is based "where the air is pure and the rivers run clean"
A small Ceredigion clothing company which is popular with mountain bikers and skateboarders has been bought by US giant Timberland.

Howies, whose products include organic T-shirts and jeans, employs 20 staff at its base in Cardigan.

The firm was formed by David and Clare Hieatt in London in the mid-1990s, and moved to mid Wales in 2001.

It uses recycled cotton and polyester, and gives part of its turnover to environmental and social projects.

Mr Hieatt said the deal would allow the company to grow further while maintaining its "standards and values".

David and Clare Hieatt
It just felt right from the first phone call
David Hieatt

On the company's website, Mr Hieatt said the firm needed more money to expand further.

He said he and his wife had already re-mortgaged their house twice, and used the rest of the property to "guarantee the company overdraft".

But when it finally came to picking a partner, Mr Hieatt said Timberland "understood why we do business our way".

"It just felt right from the first phone call. They were down to earth and honest, forward looking and into ideas and their values matched our own."

In another statement released by the assembly government on Tuesday, Mr Hieatt added: "The deal with Timberland will allow us to grow further while maintaining all of our standards and values."

He said he and his wife maintained creative control of Howies, and the same team would continue to run the company.

Jeffrey Swartz, president and chief executive of The Timberland Company, said his firm was "excited and inspired" by Howies' brand potential.

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Timberland SWOT Analysis

by Tom Lutzenberger; Updated September 26, 2017
Timberland made its mark with boots.

Among outdoors types, Timberland is a household name for quality clothing and, particularly, hiking boots. The company has been in business for decades and is well-established in various trade markets and the consumer active-wear markets. That said, a history and presence doesn’t automatically equal success. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis can point out where Timberland needs to seek improvements and bolster its defenses to continue its growth.


The company has a strong name and brand recognition, which is critical in the retail industry. Most people recognize Timberland as some type of shoe or outerwear clothes maker for outdoor work and activity. SWOT analysis will want to emphasize these points and show how the brand recognition translates into reliable sales annually, even when the economy may be doing badly.

As people have to choosier with their spending during bad times, Timberland does have the ability to argue for the quality of its products. This time-built strength can be pitched as significant value for the dollar spent, convincing consumer to spend a bit more on clothing gear that will last years rather than a cheaper item that only lasts six months.

Timberland has the ability to squeeze its operating costs for more savings. This in turn frees up cash as less gross revenue is eaten up by expenses. Being able to produce cash during hard times allows Timberland to be strategically stronger with resources it can use to expand quickly when needed.


Timberland relies on sales overseas in Europe and Asia. As the strength of the U.S. dollars grows or weakens, this will affect international sales revenue. A strong dollar will decrease sales relative to the Euro or Asian currencies as consumers in those countries effectively buy less. A weaker dollar has the opposite effect on a trade basis.

Part of the company’s annual strategy looks to the annual fourth quarter as a “replenishment period, bringing in stronger revenues than normal due to holiday buying. This is a bit of a gamble; if consumers stay stingy during the holidays, then Timberland may find itself waiting for extra revenues that don’t manifest. This weakness can cause a disruption without a plan B.


As other competitors suffer and fail because of a lack of sales and finicky consumers, Timberland’s sales due to strong reputation at worst have been flat. This opens up the ability to push for gaining market share as competitors fail. An analysis should look for these kinds of opportunities and possibly project out what seized market share could mean in increased sales and revenue streams.


Being in retail, Timberland will suffer as the economy suffers since consumer will retrench and hold back on their discretionary spending. Costco, Wal-Mart and Target look far better for necessity clothing when one has to choose with less money. This economy-driven behavior, which Timberland cannot control, will be cyclical and eventually will go away. However, the trick will be to analyze whether Timberland can see this threat coming and has the resources to ride it out.


A good SWOT analysis of Timberland will focus on its inherent retail situation and how that is managed both internally and responding to external forces. Timberland has been able to use brand recognition and quality to bolster itself during hard times, but this can only last for so long. Eventually, the company needs to find new growth or cut operating costs to stay in the black. Projections based on opportunities to grab market share from floundering competitors can produce very valuable strategic data for Timberland if it finds the opportunities to seize.


  • Seekingalpha.com: transcripts: “Timberland 3rd Quarter Earnings Call Report”


  • Timberland

About the Author

Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.

Photo Credits

  • boots image by Trevor Rogers from Fotolia.com

Timberland’s New Footprint: Recycled Tires

Worn-out car tires could end up hitting the pavement again — as the soles of Timberland shoes.

This fall, the company plans to incorporate recycled rubber into the outsoles of two lines of footwear — Timberland Mountain Athletics and Earthkeepers.

“Managing tire waste can now become both a commercially viable and eco-conscious process,” said Jeffrey Swartz, the chief executive of Timberland, in a statement.

Some 200,000 pairs of shoes will have the recycled rubber soles, but that is just a tiny fraction of the company’s shoe fleet, which was estimated in a 2007 document to be more than 30 million shoes annually.

And the majority of the new soles will still be made of virgin rubber, with 42 percent coming from the recycled tires. The tire content comes from a Malaysian company called Green Rubber, which says it has an “environmentally friendly” way to reprocess the chemical-laden tires.

Timberland — which says it is the first shoe company to commercialize the Green Rubber technology — hopes to achieve higher blends over time. Green Rubber, meanwhile, plans to open a new tire-conversion factory in Georgia that, according to Timberland, should be operational this summer.

There are a few quirks to the process. At the moment, Timberland can only make black soles from the recycled rubber, due to the dark color of the original tires. The company says, however, that the cost is not a factor — the Green Rubber soles cost the same as the virgin rubber they will replace.

The recycled soles are the latest green initiative for Timberland, a company for which sustainability goes well with its rough-hewn image. Three years ago, Timberland began assessing the energy content of its shoes, and labeling the amount used and how much was from renewable sources.

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