The other shoe dropped at Columbia Sportswear this week when its hometown newspaper reported it was cutting 80 positions, or nearly 2 percent of its workforce worldwide, to bring costs in line with lower growth expectations for 2012., the online outlet for The Oregonian newspaper, quoted a COLM spokesman confirming that most of the layoffs are occurring at the company’s headquarters near Portland or at its European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

COLM warned investors in its fourth quarter earnings release that it expected sales growth to slow this year as retailers work off inventory left over from this winter and hedge their bets amid continued macroeconomic uncertainty in Europe and the United States.
“Due to those factors, we have built our preliminary outlook for 2012 around low single-digit sales growth, compared with the 19 percent and 14 percent growth that we achieved in 2010 and 2011, respectively,” CEO Tim Boyle told investors at the time. “As a disciplined response to these slower growth assumptions, we have begun implementing a number of measures designed to limit full year 2012 expense growth to a rate that is comparable to our anticipated sales growth.”

COLM reported SG&A expenses increased 14 percent to $178.6 million, or 34.0 percent of net sales in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011, down 30 basis point compared to the same quarter a year earlier. The $21.6 million increase was caused primarily by expansion of direct-to-consumer operations globally, increased advertising spending, new hires, IT initiatives and unfavorable exchange rates.

The company, which owns the Sorel, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail brands, employed 4,100 at the end of 2011.