Columbia Sportswear Company(R) (Nasdaq:COLM), a global leader in the active outdoor apparel and footwear industry, announced that it is opening a London office to directly manage the development of Columbia’s brand in the United Kingdom.

Shoon Limited, one of the U.K.’s top footwear and apparel distributors, currently handles the distribution of Columbia Sportswear products in the U.K. Columbia’s agreement with Shoon expires in December 2000.

“Establishing a U.K. office enables us to directly oversee and grow Columbia’s brand in the U.K.,” said Tim Boyle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Sportswear. “While we have enjoyed a productive, eight-year relationship with Shoon, we have decided to handle the U.K. business the same way we do in our other European markets, where Columbia sells directly to retailers.”

The London office will handle orders from U.K. retailers, and the products will be shipped from Columbia’s distribution facility in Valkenburg, The Netherlands.

To provide continuity in the management of the Columbia brand, the company has hired Lindsey Hayes, who handles the Columbia account for Shoon, to manage the London office. Columbia’s U.K. office will open in May 2000, and shortly thereafter will start taking orders from retailers for Spring 2001 product.