Growing international distribution should be one of the pillars of the Prana brand's development under the ownership of the Columbia Sportswear group, which bought this progressive American outdoor and yoga apparel brand in April (see details of the transaction in The Compass, Vol. 7 n° 7-8).

Outlining the benefits of the acquisition at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City last month, Tim Boyle, chief executive of Columbia Sportswear, said that it was a way to complement the group's offering with a brand that targets mostly female costumers with a social and environmental conscience. While the two companies are eying synergies in sourcing and infrastructure, Prana's international development was described as its clearest opportunity under the new ownership.

European sales made up just about 3 percent of Prana's turnover, which amounted to $82 million last year and is set to reach $100 million this year. They mostly occurred in the U.K., Germany, France and the Czech Republic. The company has yet to decide in what way it will use Columbia's infrastructure in Europe to expand its own sales in this market. The brand's sales in Asia are even smaller, making up about 1 percent of the turnover and coming mostly from Japan.

Employing 145 people, Prana describes itself as a values-based company. About 20 percent of its production takes place in the U.S. Some 70 percent of the sales consist of women's products but sales of men's products have been soaring from about 5 percent of the brand's turnover five years ago. The offering consists of lifestyle products at 60 percent, compared with 24 percent for yoga and fitness clothing, 6 percent for outerwear and 5 percent for swimwear, which was introduced two years ago. Sales are divided almost equally between summer and winter products.

As part of its development plans, Prana wants to lift the share of direct-to-consumer sales from about 27 percent of its turnover this year to 45 percent by 2018. The brand has five U.S. stores and it directly targets consumers through mail order catalogs and online as well. Scott Kerslake, Prana's chief executive since 2010, is the founder and former chief executive of Athleta, another American brand of women's performance apparel. Prana is competing directly with Athleta as well as Lululemon, although its recommended retail prices are a little lower.

Another option for the brand's development is the extension of the product line: footwear was mentioned as a category in which Prana could capitalize on Columbia's expertise and its supply chain.