Tim Boyle, president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear, presented his companys business plan and future strategies at the 11th Annual Goldman Sachs Global Retail Conference held in New York City. Boyle opened with a bit of a history lesson, explaining the evolution of his company from a regional headwear company with around $1 million in sales.
Boyle again emphasized the fact that Columbias biggest competitor worldwide is its own customers private label merchandise. He said that this is a very difficult place for the company to compete, but they have been successful through their strong design team and strong global sourcing structure, which employs over 300 agents in Asia.
Looking forward, Boyle said that COLM has “four and a half” key strategies for growth. First, they will enhance their channel productivity through a larger in-store presence and shop-in-shop style merchandising. Boyle said that stores who implement this type of structure usually see a 50% gain in Columbia sales and higher margins with more merchandise sold at full price.
Two other key strategies include the companys expansion into sportswear and footwear, which Boyle said were both “key” to Columbias future. Currently COLMs sportswear presence is focused primarily on spring merchandise in order to protect their retail floor space year-round; however Boyle sees “significant opportunity” in fall merchandise in the future. In footwear, Boyle said that it will be the largest category for Columbia in five years, and will be the leading growth category until that time.
The fourth strategy is COLMs expansion globally, especially in the EU where large and growing sporting goods retailers like Decathlon and InterSport are looking for equally large pan-European brands that do not have local ties. Boyle said that Scandinavia has Helly Hansen, France has Lafuma, Germany has Vaude, and Columbia can “go into these place with critical mass production in Asia, and take over.”
The “half” key strategy is Columbias licensing initiative, which Boyle described as a “very small” part of the business, but “very profitable,” adding about three cents on to the bottom line EPS last year.