After two years of silence following the acquisition of Woolrich's majority stakes by L-Gam fund (and a minority stake by Japanese group Goldwin), Stefano Saccone, CEO, Woolrich, explained The SPIN OFF the brand's future goals in terms of sustainability, product and business strategies.
The global supply chain challenges have had a dramatic impact on our industry, and our business has also been and continues to navigate a very dynamic and difficult situation. Input costs for all raw materials have increased double-digits over the past 12 months, as well as energy and transport costs. We have needed to adapt our supply chain processes and choices to ensure on-time deliveries, and, of course, we have selectively increased prices in f/w 2022 in response to the changing cost and pricing environment which our entire industry is facing.
In terms of business impact, these regrettable and tragic developments have not had a material impact on our business, with the two countries representing less than 2% of our global turnover.
That said, like everyone, we are saddened to see the humanitarian catastrophe that the conflict has created. At the very start of the conflict, Woolrich made an immediate cash contribution to the UNHCR, and we partnered with a Polish NGO to deliver 2,500 pieces of cold weather apparel, mostly from our women's and children's collection, to Ukrainian refugees crossing the border.
Is Woolrich willing to further expand internationally?
Indeed, we have some clear plans for this. We have been operating in Germany for many years, however, we changed our commercial model in 2021 by transitioning to a fully-owned subsidiary to manage our DTC and Wholesale business from a new office and showrooms in the Loden-Frey Park Munich led by our country director, Dirk Pracel. During the last fall/winter, we rolled out a series of dedicated brand shops-in-the-shop in accounts like Loden-Frey, Hirmer, Jelmoli and Globus. We will continue these initiatives in fall/winter 2022, and expand to partners like KaDaWe.
Further afield, we also opened a new French subsidiary, with offices and showroom, in Paris to support our expansion plans in the territory, where we count a close partnership with Le Bon Marché and the 24S digital platform amongst our most important accounts.
The Japanese market, where we operate through our JV partners and minority shareholders, Goldwin, is an area of significant focus for us, and we are planning entry into both Korea and Greater China in a more structured way in the coming year, after having a small-scale direct business with key accounts in both territories.
In the US market, where we have restructured our NY-based subsidiary in the past 12 months, our focus is very much on our DTC businesses, both physical and digital, specifically in the New York tri-state area.
What is critical today for us is that our stores provide elevated brand and omnichannel experiences and capabilities in order to increase and improve engagement with our consumers. Of course, we are also looking at locations in Paris and London for the next 12-18 months, as well as pop-up and partner store opportunities in the French and Austrian Alps.
And we will continue to open stores in Italian macro-markets as we look to elevate our brand presentation and engage more directly with consumers in our key markets. After opening Bologna in November 2021, we will open Verona, Firenze, and Bolzano later this year.
In the USA, we are very focused on our business in the New York tri-state area, and the community we are building around our flagship store in SoHo.
We continue to collaborate various partners when it comes to product creation, starting with our long-standing partnership with Teddy Santis’ NYC-based label Aimé Leon Dore now in the third year of this partnership.
We are also continuing our partnership with Danielle Cathari, the young, Amsterdam-based designer who re-launched "The Woolrich Woman" label with her signature vibrant, colorful, and functional vision.
From a more streetwear perspective, in January we dropped a limited-release collaboration with Bape that fused our heritage red/black buffalo check with their iconic camo pattern.
And let’s not forget the Woolrich Outdoor Label, entirely designed in Japan which every season manifests a more technical, performance outdoor spirit of the brand, like in the current SS22 seasons which has been created for cycling from the city to the country to camp on the banks of a river to enjoy a weekend of tenkara fly-fishing.
We are not participating in the s/s 2023 edition in June, however, we are closely watching the evolution of Pitti and trade shows in general, to understand whether and how it could be productive to participate in the future.