Columbia Sportswear will move its head office to Sorel

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Columbia will move to Washington County as part of what the company calls a consolidation effort.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Columbia Sportswear Co. is pulling its Sorel headquarters from downtown Portland, moving the relatively new office to Washington County as part of what the company has called a consolidation effort.

The shoe brand’s new office will occupy 24,000 square feet in a building on the Washington County campus in Columbia, a boost from the 15,000 square feet Sorel occupies on Southwest Broadway, company officials say . The move is planned for the beginning of 2023.

The move marks a U-turn from 2016, when Columbia (Nasdaq: COLM) CEO Tim Boyle announced to much fanfare that Sorel would move from Washington County to downtown, a move that would bring 45 workers into the urban core of Washington County. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Sorel Brand Chairman Mark Nenow joined Boyle in revealing the move. At the time, Nenow said moving Sorel downtown would help attract workers who found the suburbs an unattractive place to work.

Sorel ended up in the same building as Columbia’s flagship store at 911 SW Broadway, which is owned by the shoe and apparel company.

Things went downhill somewhat after the office opened on May 1, 2017. Boyle wrote an op-ed column in the Oregonian/OregonLive, published in November, saying the brand’s move downtown was a little off. -be a mistake, saying he was “so concerned” about employee safety that he was taking 90 days to rethink the move.

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“Our celebration of our new offices ended quickly. We immediately received reports from employees that they were being harassed, harassed and threatened by individuals near our office,” Boyle wrote in the opinion piece. .

Ninety days passed and the office remained. But that was 2017. Now, a wider pandemic exodus from Portland sheds a different light on Sorel’s move, even as the city attracts shoe and apparel companies such as Fila USA and Allbirds.

“It’s about growth,” Columbia spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn said when asked about security issues or other considerations behind the move. The company has purchased three buildings on Northwest Science Park Drive in Washington County and is trying to consolidate on campus, she said.

“The new headquarters provides room for improved teams and resources and allows Sorel to continue to attract the best talent in the industry,” Columbia said Tuesday.

Columbia said Sorel will be its fastest growing component, with a compound annual growth rate of 20% to 22% over the next three years. Sorel has seen impressive growth in recent quarters, and Boyle recently called it the “next force in footwear” during an Investor Day presentation.

Boyle reiterated that stance Tuesday in a statement, calling it “a fast-growing brand for women, creating exciting and differentiated products, from sandals to wedges, sneakers to boots.”

Nenow noted, “This is an exciting and eye-opening time for our brand.”

Columbia purchased Sorel in 2000 and launched its Sorel division the following year. Columbia is second only to Nike (NYSE: NKE) as one of the largest footwear and apparel companies in Oregon and southwest Washington, with 2,500 employees in the region, according to a study by the Business Journal. It recorded over $3 billion in revenue in 2021.

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