Columbia Sportswear Company appoints China GM

The Oregon-based active apparel and equipment group has appointed John Soh as vice president and general manager for China, effective February 2019.
 

John Soh - Photo: Columbia

“John’s long experience in footwear and apparel in Asia, and particularly in China, are a perfect fit for our growing China market,” said Tim Boyle, president and CEO of Columbia Sportswear Company. “I look forward to John’s leadership contributions as we continue to evolve our brands to meet the needs of consumers around the globe.”

Soh, a seasoned retail and country manager, joins the company from Lego, where he served as a senior commercial director for the Asia Pacific Region. Previously, he completed a two-decade stint at Nike, ultimately holding the position of senior sales director for Greater China and Southeast Asia.

“I’m excited to join Columbia Sportswear Company,” said Soh, who will report to Doug Morse, senior vice president of the Emerging Brands category and APAC. “This is a great opportunity, and I am happy to contribute to the growth of the business in China.”

News of the appointment comes as the company readies itself to complete a buy-back in early 2019 of a 40% stake in its China joint venture, Columbia Sportswear Commercial, from local partner Swire Resources.

“The acquisition is consistent with our strategy to accelerate investment as a brand-led, consumer-first business in the areas of highest growth potential for our existing brands,” Boyle explained in the announcement in April.

One such area will be the expansion and improvement of the company’s global DTC operations, which it has said will be one of four main points of focus moving forward. The channel has been a recent bright spot, seeing a 23% rise in the third quarter, while wholesale remained flat in comparison.

Founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, the company owns brands Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, and Prana, in addition to its flagship brand Columbia, and sells in some 90 countries.
 

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