Two years after the acquisition of Woolrich's majority stakes by L-Gam fund, Stefano Saccone, CEO, Woolrich, explained The SPIN OFF the brand's future goals in terms of sustainability, product and business strategies.
Where does Woolrich stand now?
The brand and its business are in good shape. The last two years were of course very disrupted by Covid, however, during that time, we’ve worked hard in transforming the company to deliver brand and business growth. In these past two years, every area of the company has been reviewed – from sales to digital, marketing to product, finance to supply chain.
I think our recent performance tells us that we are doing the right things. In 2021, global revenues grew 22% vs. the previous year. Importantly, our company retail stores sale growth in Q4 2021 was +14% vs. 2019, so well ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Similarly, our e-commerce business, which we in sourced in September 2020, has tripled since 2019, and it is our fastest growing channel. We just closed Q1 2022 at +8% vs. Q1 2019, so again, ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Our FW22 sales campaign delivered +14% growth versus f/w 2021 and all markets grew at a double-digit rate.
Today the Woolrich business is an approx 60% direct to consumer (DTC) and 40% wholesale business through 850 doors (including 30 monobrand stores), whereas in 2019, this mix was 70% wholesale and 30% DTC business.
What new direction will the brand take?
As America’s oldest outdoor clothing brand, Woolrich has a tremendous legacy and archive on which to build, but more importantly, we want to bring our 190 years of outdoor authenticity to a new generation of consumers by renewing and re-energizing the brand across product, marketing, and experiences.
Will it enlarge its product offer?
At its core, Woolrich today is an outerwear brand as we design quality, long-lasting apparel to protect people from the elements. However, the brand has always been about much more than cold-weather outerwear. Indeed, today, some of our fastest growing categories globally are over shirts and flannels, sweaters and fleece styles.
Will it take, or did it take a new, more responsible direction?
You only need to visit vintage stores around the world, from New York to Berlin to Tokyo, or come visit our recently opened garment and fabric archive in Italy, to understand that Woolrich’s has been making quality garments that last a lifetime long before "sustainability" became the buzzword that it is today. And for us, that is where sustainability begins–by making quality products that last.
We take our responsibility towards the planet and its people seriously, and for this reason, in March 2021, we launched the Woolrich Outdoor Foundation in partnership with 1% for the Planet. Through the Foundation, we donate 1% of our global retail sales to charities and NGOs that are focused on three key areas – reforestation, urban renewal, and coastal maintenance. To date, we have donated in cash, product and employee volunteering over €2 million to projects close to our communities such as Humana, Selva Urbana, Oikos, Billion Oyster Project, Parks & Trails NY and Goodwill of Colorado.
Will you also focus on lowering your impact? How?
We are working with Quantis, a renowned sustainability consulting partner, to complete our direct and indirect assessments with a view to first understanding and now reducing our company’s environmental impact. Together with Quantis, we have defined a road-map to becoming a carbon-neutral company in the coming years. This has already resulted in significant changes in terms of how we source energy for our stores and offices to partnering with DHL to carbon-offset all of our B2B and B2C shipments to reducing unnecessary packing and carton use.
We believe it is our responsibility as a company and organization to be a force of positive change, and we put our money, products, and employee’s efforts behind this.
Of course. Product is also a part of our sustainability efforts as we have reviewed our entire sourcing and supply chain platform and our designers and product developers have a clear mandate to use responsible materials wherever possible in our collections. For example, for fall/winter 2022, 95% of our down filling is RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified, 85 % of our cotton is certified organic, and 75% of our wool is Nativa-certified. We are increasingly using fully-recycled nylon, as well as Pertex, Revolve fabrics that are made entirely from recycled polyester, enabling them to be recycled at the end-of-life. (TO BE CONTINUED...)