Wong, age 54, brings 29 years of experience with the Swire group, including the past 23 years with Swire Resources Limited, where he began in 1990 as financial controller and ascended to executive director in June 2012. Wong has led Swire Resources' efforts as Columbia Sportswear's exclusive distributor in Mainland China since 2004 and in Hong Kong/Macau since 2002.
Swire Resources' Mainland China revenues attributable to its Columbia distributorship totaled over $150 million and generated low-double-digit EBITDA in 2012, selling through approximately 70 branded retail locations and to dealers who operate more than 680 mono- and multi-brand retail locations.
The new 60/40 joint venture will assume control over this existing distributor business. It will initially employ approximately 700 staff, drawn primarily from the current Swire Resources team that has grown Columbia to be the #1 outdoor brand in China, according to the 2012 China Outdoor & Fashion Sports Goods Retailing Report from ISPO China and The China National Commercial Informational Centre.
"We believe Samson's proven leadership and the continuity of the Swire team will be invaluable as we invest together and expand our relationship with a trusted business partner under the new joint venture structure," said Columbia president and CEO Tim Boyle.
"Samson and his team bring a deep understanding of the China market and of the strategy and operational skills required to support and grow Columbia's family of leading outdoor brands," said J.B. Rae-Smith, an executive director of Swire Pacific Limited with responsibility for Swire Resources Limited. "We are deeply committed to working with Columbia Sportswear as joint venture partners."
"We have built a solid foundation for Columbia's brands over the past 10 years and I am honored by the opportunity to lead the new joint venture with Columbia Sportswear and many of my current Swire colleagues," said Wong.
The joint venture is expected to commence operations effective January 1, 2014, subject to regulatory approval in the People's Republic of China and other conditions customary in transactions of this size and type. The joint venture will be fully consolidated in Columbia Sportswear's operating results, beginning in 2014.
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