February 13, 2017, 10:23 AM

Columbia Sportswear is investigating a cyber attack

The outdoor apparel maker and retailer grew its global online sales by more than 20% in 2016.

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Columbia Sportswear Co. is investigating an attack on one of its e-commerce sites.

CEO Tim Boyle told analysts on Columbia’s fourth quarter 2016 earnings call that there was an unspecified cyber attack on its prAna brand’s online store. Columbia Sportswear acquired prAna in May 2014 for $190 million in cash.

“We immediately launched an investigation and engaged a leading third-party cyber security firm to assist us,” he told analysts on the call, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. “Protecting our customers' information is one of our top priorities and we are taking this very seriously. Until the investigation is completed, it's difficult to characterize the scope or nature of the potential incident, but we are working vigilantly to address this issue.” Boyle stressed that the attack was limited to prAna’s site and did not affect Columbia’s other online stores.

Online sales are growing fast for the outdoor apparel maker and retailer.

Boyle told analysts the company generated about $220 million in online sales globally in 2016. Columbia, No. 181 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, does not break out online sales in its quarterly earnings reports, but based on Boyle’s statement that Columbia had $180 million in global online sales in 2015, that would mean online sales are up 22.2% year over year.

The success of the company’s Director of Toughness social media campaign, which enters its second year in 2017, has helped drive additional brand awareness. Columbia hires a pair of people to travel the world for nine months and wear Columbia gear in extreme conditions, chronicling their experiences on social media.

Boyle says the campaign has driven more than $1 billion worth of media impressions since launching last year.

“Although still early in season two, this year's Directors of Toughness campaign has already more than doubled the social media results of season one, driving more than 200 million editorial impressions and millions of views on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram,” he said.

Heading into 2017, the company plans to take greater control of its European e-commerce businesses.

“We will soon be bringing our European, Columbia and Sorel brand e-commerce businesses in-house to service 10 European countries from the prior third-party provider,” he said. “This change will help drive a superior brand connection and consumer experience, grow sales with an expanded product offering while leveraging our existing physical distribution infrastructure.”

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Columbia Sportswear reported:

  • Net sales of $717.5 million, up 2.6% from $699.4 million last year.
  • Sales in the United States of $455.4 million, up 2.1% from $446.2 million.
  • Net income of $85.6 million, up 32.1% from $64.8 million.

For fiscal 2016, Columbia Sportswear reported:

  • Net sales of $2.377 billion, up 2.2% from $2.326 billion last year.
  • Sales in the United States of $1.505 billion, up 3.4% from $1.455 billion.
  • Net income of $198.4 million, up 10.3% from $179.9 million.
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