Columbia Sportswear presented its collection for Fall/Winter 2009-10 to some of its top European retail customers. According to what the team of THE COMPASS could hear and see at the company’s European headquarters in Geneva, retailers were not only pleased with the promising collection, but also with the way the company was talking to retail customers.
Retailers appreciated the fact that both Tim Boyle, president and chief executive, and Christian Finell, Boyle’s man in Europe, were both talking frankly about mistakes from the past and about being determined to improve in the very near future.
Antti Kärävä, Columbia Europe’s marketing director, stated that the company now has a complete and steady new team in place in the region to overcome the problems of the last years.
In Geneva, it was especially interesting to see that Columbia has great plans for Sorel, the brand for rugged outdoor footwear that the group acquired in 2000. When talking to THE COMPASS, Boyle desxcribed his plan for the revamp of the brand as “ambitious.” The plan is to turn the straightforward, rugged, functional brand into something sexy designed for girls and younger women.
The company emphasizes, however, that Sorel will not compromise as far as the functional quality is concerned, which Sorel customers are used to. Finell adds that it could be desirable for Sorel to attract retailers other than the usual suspects in specialty outdoor retailing to win also customers among fashion and footwear retailers who are dedicated to trendy footwear. For the time being, however, Finell says that it is very important to make the existing customers familiar with the new offer.