In order to support a new development plan for its licensed Woolrich brand, WP Lavori in Corso has split itself into two entities with the creation of a new legal structure called Woolrich Europe, effective Jan. 1. Like WP Lavori in Corso, the new Woolrich Europe will also be fully owned by Cristina Calori. She will be running both companies, but Woolrich Europe will have a dedicated team of managers who were working on the brand before.
In agreement with its American licensor, Woolrich Europe will focus on the development of the brand, while WP Lavori in Corso will deal with the other brands for which it has the distribution or a license in Italy, such as Burberry, Blundstone and Palladium. Based in Bologna, Italy, WP Lavori in Corso is the licensee for Woolrich John Rich & Bros in Europe and Asia.
The company recently presented an ambitious development plan, which will unfold over the next five years for the international development of the Woolrich John Rich & Bros brand internationally. It plans to make important investments in marketing and research & development, along with the expansion of its network of single-brand Woolrich stores.
WP Lavori in Corso is also launching a new and more technical Teton Performance outdoor capsule collection for autumn/winter 2016/17 as part of its Woolrich John Rich & Bros range. In Europe, the Woolrich brand is mostly associated with contemporary fashion, somewhat like Moncler. The outdoor segment remains marginal, but an official of WP Lavori in Corso told us that the company might evaluate the possibility of developing the outdoor and sporting goods retail segments in the future, although the brand would keep its high-end and sophisticated profile in the market.
Developed in partnership with Gore-Tex, the new technical line includes for the first time a fur-free version of the iconic Arctic Parka, originally launched by Woolrich in 1972. Two of the brand's historic models, the Mountain Jacket and the Mountain Parka, have been reinterpreted for a more contemporary style, and the hood has been redesigned.
The Woolrich GTX Down Mountain Jacket and the GTX Down Mountain Parka are made of 150-denier polyester canvas thread, which is supposed to provide high resistance to abrasion and tearing. Both items are described as 100 percent waterproof, windproof and breathable thanks to the Gore-Tex membranes. In addition, they are both entirely assembled with heat-sealed taping and treated with a long-lasting water repellent. They are filled with standard American 90/10 grey duck down while the lining is made of extremely light, 20-denier yarn ripstop fabric.
Teton, which gives its name to the outdoor capsule collection, has been a historic Woolrich label since the 1970s. The Teton Technical Outdoor Capsule Collection comprises a full line of products, ranging from trans-seasonal garments to outdoor, technical products. A series of autumn rainwear features breathable, lightweight Teton Cordura Stretch garments, including a mac, a field jacket and a parka. A knitwear collection completes the Teton product range.
Despite the name of the new company that will manage the Woolrich brand in the future, Woolrich Europe will also cover Japan and South Korea as part of its licensing agreement with the brand owner in the U.S., and the group plans to continue to expand in both of these markets.
The Japanese market is managed by Yagi Tsusho, a local distributor. In North America, including Canada, the development and distribution of the brand are still controlled directly by Woolrich Inc. The Woolrich John Rich & Bros collection has a high-end positioning and is sold in select boutiques and department stores internationally.
WP Lavori in Corso currently runs five Woolrich stores and franchises nine others in Europe. The new retail expansion program calls for the establishment of 54 new corporate and franchised Woolrich shops in Europe, mostly in large cities like Milan, Rome, Paris, Zurich, Vienna, Madrid, Oslo, Moscow and St. Petersburg, along with a number of shop-in-shops. The number of stores in Europe is expected to reach 68 by 2020.
The store in Rome in via San Sebastianello will soon be moved to a more visible location, near the central via Frattina. The brand's retail presence in Japan will be reinforced with five new stores and 25 shop-in-shops, which will add to the current flagship in Tokyo. The first flagship store in South Korea will soon open in Seoul, and this is supposed to be accompanied by the opening of a certain number of shop-in-shops in the country. As for China, the expansion strategy will be developed in collaboration with Woolrich Inc.
WP Lavori in Corso had a turnover of €140 million, of which €105 million were generated by the Woolrich brand. As a group, it is targeting a 14 percent sales increase by 2020. The new development plan is mostly funded by the company itself.