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Sombrio halts business; outlook uncertain

Published December 2, 2013

NORTH VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BRAIN) — Apparel brand Sombrio announced it has suspended business, citing financial difficulties stemming from a failed retail expansion plan in which Sombrio would have opened its own branded stores.

“With these challenges we’re in an incredibly painful position in that we have to pause or halt business until we find a way forward, or a buyer. Granted, our door is still open, and we’re operational, [but] our future is quite uncertain,” company founder Dave Watson stated Friday on the Sombrio website. Reached by phone Monday following Thanksgiving weekend, Watson declined comment beyond the statement. 

Sombrio was established by gravity pro Watson in 1998 and launched its first full line of mountain bike clothing, inspired by North Vancouver’s burgeoning freeride scene, in 2002. The brand has since expanded into footwear and, most recently, urban clothing. 

Its products are sold in about 50 specialty bike shops in the U.S. and Canada, as well as consumer direct on the Sombrio website. The brand also recently began promoting its urban apparel through fashion boutiques.

In 2011, consultants advised the company to grow sales by opening its own network of branded stores, Watson said in the Friday statement. Money was raised through investors, but “(s)adly, it all went sideways, as the retail expansion plan was way more expensive to execute than we were led to believe, barred with issues, and stores never opened. In an attempt to bridge the void, and rekindle stability, our family and primary investor stepped up. Our team realigned on our core channels, and worked tirelessly to good result,” Watson stated.

“However, even with all the positives achieved this year from our team, and a great season mapped for next—the perils of failed expansion have left the company with a significant gap—and one (of) the investors just weeks ago bowed out.”

Going forward, the brand “will need someone with the resources, expertise and vision to continue bringing Sombrio’s innovative, high-performance riding apparel to a huge market looking for an alternative to the status quo,” Watson stated.

Retailers with questions or concerns about 2014 preseason orders were advised to email inquiries to


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