Backpack maker JanSport leaving Everett, laying off 41 employees

EVERETT — At the end of March, JanSport will close its distribution center in Everett, ending the outdoor gear maker’s 40 years in business here.

JanSport employs 41 workers at a site off Hardeson Road in south Everett. Those workers will be offered severance pay and other benefits, the company said in statement Wednesday.

“Our associates in this location have performed very well, and we appreciate their efforts and dedication,” Patty Pierce, vice president of human resources for JanSport’s parent company, said in a statement.

Four years after JanSport was founded in Seattle, the backpack maker moved to Everett in 1971. The company, which has become one of the world’s largest sellers of backpacks, expanded to offer luggage, collegiate apparel and laptop bags.

Through the years, the company has undergone corporate ownership changes. JanSport today is owned by VF Corp., a $9 billion apparel and footwear conglomerate. VF Corp. owns The North Face, Vans and Wrangler among other brands. It purchased Timberland and Smartwool last year.

VF Corp. made the decision to shutter the Everett site “to balance our worldwide distribution and supply capacity, and to maintain product costs that are competitive with other apparel companies,” Pierce, who works for VF’s outdoor division, said in a statement.

JanSport’s presence in Everett has shrunk slowly over the decades.

The company used to have a sewing facility in Everett. That facility was closed in 1998 when the work was sent to Mexico and Honduras.

JanSport moved in 2002 from an Airport Road location into a larger Everett facility that could accommodate the company’s North American distribution needs. It also based repair out of the Everett site.

Ten years ago, JanSport employed 110 full-time workers in Everett and would bring on as many as 60 temporary workers during peak season, from April through August.

JanSport’s company headquarters are in San Leandro, Calif., while the headquarters for VF Corp. are in Greensboro, N.C.

Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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