The UK will be a “huge focus” for heritage brand Woolrich after it merged its US and European divisions, new chief executive Paolo Corinaldesi has told Drapers.
Woolrich Inc and Woolrich Europe have today merged into a newly incorporated company, Woolrich International.
The company will move into new headquarters at an undisclosed location in London next year.
“We looked at many locations, including Amsterdam and Paris, but London was the right fit, even in light of Brexit,” explained Corinaldesi, who became CEO this week.
The London base will co-ordinate Woolrich’s other offices in New York, Woolrich in Pennsylvania, and Bologna and Milan in Italy. It has a global workforce of 300.
The brand is also looking for a flagship store in London, to open in 2017 or 2018.
“We’ll have a conservative approach [to store openings] but it is one of our main focuses,” said Corinaldesi. “The UK is a huge market for us and it’s something we want to strengthen further.”
Woolrich currently has one store in the UK at 81 Brewer Street in London’s Soho and is stocked in 60 retailers, including Flannels, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
The expansion is part of a four-year strategy that will lead to further international store openings, the relaunch of the Woolrich Outdoor brand and a development plan for Greater China.
At the end of the four years, Woolrich International plans to float on one of the big international stock markets to sustain its second growth phase, which will focus on emerging markets. The firm currently has a network of 25 stores worldwide, and is stocked in 45 countries.
Woolrich, founded in 1830, has an annual turnover of $190m (£153m). The firm aims to grow by 12% every year from 2017 to 2020, when it will reach an annual turnover of $300m (£242m) and an employee base of 500 people.
Woolrich International is controlled by WP Lavori, the Italian company that holds the licence to design, produce and distribute Woolrich in markets including Europe and Japan. The Rich family continues to own a significant stake.
Corinaldesi worked at WP Lavori for 20 years, most recently as legal and financial advisor.
Cristina Calori, chairman and CEO of WP Lavori and Woolrich Europe, has assumed the role of chairman of Woolrich International.
Andrea Canè, creative director for Woolrich Europe, has been appointed global creative director of Woolrich International and Nicholas Brayton, 7th-generation descendent of founder John Rich, will continue his role of president of Woolrich, leading the US market.