Backcountry appoints Urban Outfitters vet as chief product officer
As its expansion into brick-and-mortar retail takes shape, digital-first outdoor equipment and apparel specialist Backcountry announced on Monday that it has named Urban Outfitters alum Colby Black as its new chief product officer, effective immediately.
In his new role, Black will lead product development and strategy at Backcountry’s in-house brands, which include Backcountry Gear and Apparel, Stoic, and Basin & Range. He will also be responsible for third-party merchandising and collaborative partnership opportunities.
In particular, the executive will be tasked with introducing new business units and implementing growth initiatives for key product categories and will also be expected to develop and diversify Backcountry’s roster of third-party collaborators, with an eye to broadening the retailer’s gear and apparel offering.
Furthermore, according to the company, Black will play a key role in the expansion and evolution of its physical store network. Founded as a digital-only business in 1996, Backcountry took its first steps into brick-and-mortar retail with the opening of two stores, in Park City, Utah and Boulder, Colorado, earlier this year.
Black comes to Backcountry from live video commerce platform NTWRK, which he joined as chief merchandising officer in January of this year. In this role, he was in charge of the execution of daily product drops, digital festivals and new global initiatives.
Prior to this, he spent 17 years at Urban Outfitters, where he served in a series of leadership and executive positions, including general merchandise manager and executive director for buying and marketplace. During his time with the company, Black was instrumental in the launch of Urban Outfitters’ first digital marketplace integration.
“Colby brings a wealth of blended experience to this role,” said Backcountry CEO Melanie Cox in a release. “In addition to his vast background in merchandising strategy and brand development, he has an innate creative ability that will breathe new life into our portfolio of owned brands. From our e-commerce platform to our evolving brick-and-mortar footprint, Colby will be a driving force in Backcountry’s growth within the outdoor community.”
Backcountry’s recent push into physical retail has been built around efforts to recreate the brand’s online experience – characterized by personalized customer service from expert associates known as Gearheads – in the brick-and-mortar space. Alongside this strategy, the retailer has also opted for an integrated omnichannel approach, allowing visitors to their physical locations to browse products both in store and online.
“It is an incredible time to be joining Backcountry as we build beyond our native, global e-commerce platform and expand our experience into brick-and-mortar locations,” commented Black. “We will continue to leverage our Gearhead experts and incredibly knowledgeable team to create and curate industry-leading products and experiences for outdoor enthusiasts around the world.”
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