GROWING DOORS: Outdoor clothing company Prana is set to open its first Southern California store as part of larger plans to grow its brick-and-mortar business.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, which Columbia Sportswear Co. bought last year for $190 million, has “a great opportunity to expand retail,” said chief executive officer Scott Kerslake.

It has also become a necessity in today’s retail landcape, he added.

“From where we stand, the companies that are going to win in the future are going to have multiple points of contact with the customer,” Kerslake said. “We see retail as being a key part of that multi-channel strategy. For us, retail should not only be a great exhibit for the brand, but also a place that makes it easy to transact for people. It’s one additional point of contact, integrated into the broader experience.”

Prana sells apparel and accessories for men and women, marketing its offering as a sustainable line aimed at those interested in travel and the outdoors. Columbia said at the time of its purchase of the company that Prana’s 2014 sales were expected to be more than $100 million. The company declined to say whether that milestone was reached or to provide a projection for the current year until Columbia’s fourth-quarter earnings release.

Prana currently owns and operates five stores in Boulder, Denver, San Francisco, Portland and Minneapolis. The downtown Encinitas store, which will be just under 3,000 square feet, is expected to open in April.

The company wants to open three more stores this year, with executives eyeing Palo Alto, Austin and Seattle, according to Kerslake. Park City is another location up for consideration.

“There’s a lot of potential for us and retail’s been going quite well,” Kerslake said.

The Encinitas store is close to corporate headquarters, which is why it will serve as a lab to test new strategies and technologies, including a kiosk to give customers access to a broader selection of inventory. 

The company’s sales over the past few years have been strong, driven in part by the swim, surf and stand-up paddleboarding categories that the company entered about three years ago, Kerslake said.

Cold-weather offerings, such as the mid-layer sweater and outwear categories, are another area of focus for the company and will be positioned in the market as less about technical composition and more about everyday function.

“The market’s changing,” Kerslake said. “People don’t want to look like Star Trek all the time.”

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