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The leading sportswear chain, Columbia Sportswear Company (COLM - Snapshot Report), strengthens its presence in the growing Indian market by forming a distribution agreement with the New Delhi-based Chogori India Retail Ltd. As per the agreement, Chogori will serve as the sole distributor of Columbia’s brands in India.

Founded in 2000, Chogori is a retailer and distributor for ten brands operating across India through 32 stores in 14 cities. It is the exclusive retailer of Hi-Tec, the British footwear brand and American footwear brand, Crocs, belonging to Crocs Inc. (CROX - Snapshot Report) in the Indian market.

Weather issues, higher payroll taxes and the overall lackluster retail environment have been pressurizing margins for several lifestyle retail companies during the past quarters. This has prompted the companies to explore emerging markets like India, China, Japan and Korea for generating growth.

Columbia Sportswear has been no exception. Although the company’s net loss narrowed to 21 cents per share from a net loss of 23 cents a year ago, in the second quarter of fiscal 2013 reported on Jul 25, 2013, sales declined 3% from the year-ago period mainly due to unfavorable weather.

The Indian sportswear industry is growing rapidly as Indians are increasingly taking to outdoor leisure activities. Columbia Sportswear will have to compete with local brands, like Bata, Liberty and Woodland, and international players, like Nike Inc. (NKE - Analyst Report), Skechers USA Inc. (SKX - Analyst Report), Adidas AG and Reebok International Ltd. Crocs’ footwear made with flagship foam clogs available in vibrant colors has also gained popularity in the Indian footwear market.

Columbia Sportswear owns outdoor brands like Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, Montrail and OutDry. The company’s outdoor apparel, footwear and other products are sold in approximately 100 countries. Apart from India, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company has also formed a joint venture in 2012 with Swire Resources Ltd. in China to expand the company’s sales in the region.

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