Columbia has agreed to outfit upwards of 2,000 National Park staff for five years, including 300 rangers, providing high quality clothing that’s ‘tested tough’ and designed to keep them warm, dry, cool and protected in Britain’s toughest conditions.
The clothes, footwear, bags and related items will be put through their paces by staff working in some of the UK’s toughest conditions and harshest weather. Those using them will provide the company will valuable feedback.
National Parks Partnership development director Naomi Conway has been in her role for just over a year and is developing "a number of partnership opportunities".
"We thought it was a natural fit in terms of the outdoor industry," she said. Columbia has not as much of a presence in the UK as in other territories and is looking to improve that.
"We had conversations with Columbia over the past year. They haven’t focused their efforts here but now want to, so the timing was perfect."
The Columbia items are worth £2.5m in retail value. Conway said the National Parks will save a sum in the high hundreds of thousands, which can be spent on looking after the parks.
"It’s a really significant saving for us."
Columbia and the National Parks will also work together on new initiatives to promote the parks and encourage more people to visit over the next five years.
Andy Barker, general manager UK & IR Columbia Sportswear said: "At Columbia, our mission is to help people enjoy the outdoors longer. That’s why we consider it our responsibility to be conscientious stewards of our shared environment. Becoming a partner of the UK’s National Parks is an unrivalled opportunity to highlight the amazing work conducted by rangers and staff."
The National Parks Partnership was established to find such opportunities for the 15 UK National Parks. The UK’s 15 National Parks (10 in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland) are free to visit and host more than 100 million visitors each year.
The organisation’s chair Steve Curl called Columbia’s move "an enlightened investment".
"We have been hugely impressed by Columbia’s environmental and ethical commitments as well as their genuine enthusiasm for the UK’s National Parks and their plan for support over the next five years," he added.