Episode 0022: Columbia Sportswear (COLM): A leading global brand thrives as retail distribution channels change

In this podcast, we examine what has caused growth in outerwear, sportswear, and footwear to accelerate since the 2008 credit crisis for key players such as Columbia, North Face, and other brands.  These leading firms have  harnessed the opportunity to use outlet stores and e-commerce to redefine their relationship with their customers and retailers, and in so doing have increased their penetration of these essential apparel markets.  Coming out of the 2008 meltdown, we recount the grotesquely massive bets made by retailers on private label, which helped spur Columbia to develop this strategy.  We evaluate the return on capital of various players, taking a dive into the metrics of retailing to help contrast various approaches, and we touch upon the emergent category of yoga attire.  The industry has been changed on a deeply fundamental level, which we think has benefited the strongest brands over peripheral players, a trend that has had a profound impact upon other industries we have followed in the past, such as the travel market.