Within the last edition of Pitti Uomo, the US brand Woolrich celebrated its 190th anniversary, disclosed some of its next evolutionary steps and presented its Arctic Parka Capsule's key pieces for f/w 2020-21. For the occasion, the Dogana space of Florence was transformed into an enchanted winter woods covered with real snow and resembling a true Northeastern US landscape where the brand was born. Stefano Saccone, the newly named CEO of Woolrich International, explained what are the brand's future expansion plans.
What's new at Woolrich after the acquisition by L-Gam?
We are coming from a 2019 that has brought important transformations. L-Gam fund has acquired the company and named various new managers. After I joined the company in July 2019, Federico Manno was named as general manager direct-to-consumer & digital key accounts and Gaetano Coccopalmeri as new sales director export. Within The Ultimate Woolrich Experience event held in Florence we have presented one part of the collection–our new Arctic Parka Capsule. This installation recreated an environment that can also be found in our flagship stores' snowroom and aims to communicate to consumers how our jackets can guarantee protection in urban context when there is snow, rain, wind and mid-season cold temperatures. The capsule focuses on three different themes–Eco, Tech and Luxe–all expressing the brand's iconic combination of innovation and urban style. The Eco selection concentrates on sustainable products offering items made with eco-friendly materials like 100% organic wind- and water-resistant cotton, buttons made with beet and detailing made with recycled materials only. The Tech concept is clean though expressing a highly functional urban concept as made with technical fabrics like, for instance, Gore-Tex, that represents a constantly growing part for us. It is aimed at slightly older professionals–especially in Europe, but also in the US. The Luxe selection is clearly part of Woolrich history as it uses noble materials like Loro Piana fabrics and technical wools, a high-potential growth product selection for seasons to come.
How will the brand evolve? Will it only focus on luxury, adult and eco-friendly products or will it also cater the young consumer?
The luxury and eco components will become always more important for the brand. Historically Woolrich has always been a very transversal brand, especially in Europe, though the young market continues to play an important role for us. We have been historically transversal–that has always been our strength, though we aim to serve the young by offering our new Woolrich Outdoor selection made by our Japanese and minority partners Goldwin. This collection has a spirit, a focus and a soul that is truly aimed at a younger consumer and offered at more affordable prices that are around 20-30% less expensive than the historic Woolrich collection.
What are your future strategies?
For our next three years we aim to operate through different geographies and channels. The US, our historic home market will be key for us. In fact we operate through a directional showroom in New York, we opened a new store on SoHo which is near our old store, but double and a half the size of our first one. We are working with the US key accounts like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Saks and Neiman Marcus. Asia is obviously an important market and we are already there through our partners in Japan. Our next step will be Korea where we will start working from f/w 2020-21 and we want to open a store in Seoul. In Japan, a market that today counts about 20% of our revenues, we will open a third store in Osaka after the Tokyo and Sapporo ones. From there, after growing in Korea by end 2020-21, we want to start expanding in China, a market that requires an extremely accurate approach. We will carefully study that market for 12 months and expect to enter China by end 2021. Europe obviously remains our main market as it counts for about 70% of our sales. We are now operating through 2,000 multibrand stores and 25 monobrand ones. Our historic business in Italy, German speaking countries and Benelux remains a focus. Though we have projects for increasing our presence in France (where we aim to open a flagship store in Paris this year), Spain and the UK, but also Eastern Europe together with Russia and Ukraine. Looking at Asia and America we expect a double-digit growth, while in Europe our ambition is a mid-high-single digit growth. Speaking about channels our direct-to-consumer globally already counts for more than 30% of our business. Our focus for further growth is digital (e-commerce is in double-digit expansion) though it counts less than 10% of our sales. Both e-commerce and digital wholesale as channels will be our main focus for the next three years as our presence there is very low. Our ambition is that e-commerce becomes 20% of our overall revenues.