Mountain Hardwear President Topher Gaylord resigns

Mountain Hardwear brand sales had hit a rough patch. Parent company Columbia names Prana CEO Scott Kerslake as interim Mountain Hardwear president.

Mountain Hardwear President Topher Gaylord has resigned after a rough recent patch for the brand’s sales.

Officials with parent company Columbia Sportswear (Nasdaq: COLM) announced the news just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, a classic move by businesses wanting to bury not so good news.

Columbia tapped Scott Kerslake, CEO of sister brand Prana, to serve as interim president of Mountain Hardwear while the company conducts a global search for a permanent replacement. In addition to his interim duties at Mountain Hardwear, Kerslake will continue to lead Prana.

“We’re fortunate to have a proven leader like Scott to step in and guide Mountain Hardwear during this important transition,” said Bryan Timm, president of Columbia Sportswear. “Mountain Hardwear remains one of our most promising brands. We will be looking for a proven leader who understands the high performance demands of Mountain Hardwear’s consumers and who can help the brand realize that potential. The relationships Scott has built with the Mountain Hardwear management team, and his established relationships with the brand’s key wholesale customers, will provide valuable leadership during the search process.”

Gaylord had served as Mountain Hardwear’s president for the past five years, since March 2010. Sales for the brand began to lag in late 2013 and dropped by nearly a quarter (24 percent) during the fall of 2014.

Columbia’s Director of Corporate Communications Ron Parham told SNEWS at the time that the brand had struggled to find the right pricepoints for its premium-level items.

“As a result, fall 2013 sell-through to consumers underperformed. Mountain Hardwear’s fall 2014 line was already designed by then and had not yet been augmented to include more of those key gateway products, so retailers’ advance orders for fall 2014 were muted,” Parham said in October 2014.

Mountain Hardwear finished 2014 down 10 percent in sales at $119.8 million. Meanwhile, sales at sister brands Columbia and Prana posted solid gains.

Officials said they would right the ship for Mountain Hardwear in 2015, but early sale results for the brand continued to lag, falling 23 percent in the first quarter 2015 compared to a year ago.

–David Clucas