Italy’s WP Lavori in Corso/Work In Progress group (WP) will be announcing more focused strategies during the Pitti Uomo January 2015 edition.

After the recent extinguishing of licensing agreements with brands such as, for instance, BD Baggies and Baracuta, the company will now focus on distributing the brands Barbour, Blundstone and Palladium in Italy. In addition, it will design and sell the Woolrich brand for Europe and – according to an agreement with the Rich family that is now managing the brand in the US market – also in Asia in partenership with the US historical Woolrich company (also see our previous coverage). 

“WP is now organizing its activities in order to manage Woolrich as a true European filial for the brand to be effective within 2016,” commented Andrea Cané, creative director, WP, while registering positive economic results such as €132 million sales in 2014, +10% when compared with 2013. 

The Italian company plans to open about five new Woolrich stores every year. For this, by end 2015, they expect to reach about 20 Woolrich stores. They have already opened a total of 11 stores, including two in Italy, seven in Europe, one in New York and one in Tokyo. Other Woolrich store openings are expected. In addition to the first store opened in October 2014 in New York, they will open a second one in Tokyo by fall 2015 and another one in Boston by July 2015. Though another store might also open in another US city. They also plan to open four more stores in Europe – one in Germany, one in Norway, one in Sweden and one in The Netherlands. They will also inaugurate of the first Woolrich store in Milan and the debut in the Canadian market with additional openings of monobrand stores.

At present WP operates nine stores in total: seven in Italy, one in New York/Brooklyn and one in Seoul. Presently, no further openings are planned for 2015.

The company is registering 50% of its revenues in Italy and the remaining 50% abroad, though it expects to reach about 55% of their sales from foreign markets and the remaining 45% from Italy by fall 2015. “Among markets that are especially slowing down now are Russia, for the country’s present critical conditions, and Japan, for the 40% devaluation the Yen has been facing which brought an increase of prices,” continues Cané. “In Europe markets that are performing well are, for instance, Germany and Northern Europe.”

Another market where they soon will be debuting is China. “Thanks to our joint venture with the Rich family we will also manage that country together. Despite that companies have always sold through direct stores only here, we notice that also multibrand stores are slowly opening also there. In fact multibrand showrooms are also slowly starting to play a significant role. For this we might also slowly start a distribution strategy there that will become effective from f/w 2016 on.”

WP is also carefully studying how the climate changes and market evolution are also asking for a more varied product offer that can help better meet different market needs. “According to a study carried ahead by Istituto di Statistiche di Bologna, Woolrich is perceived according to two main values and characteristics - protection from cold and comfort,” explains Cané. “For this we are performing well in cold countries and are offering an always more varied selection of products that are premium quality and keep warm. We are also starting to offer sweatshirts made with cashmere or wool, which are comfy though made with noble fibers.” Considering how weather conditions are changing they are also expanding their knitwear offer and their selection of lighter weight items to be sold especially at the beginning of the season.

Among novelties in terms of products for the Woolrich collection for f/w 2015/2016 (which continues to offer about 240 pieces for men and about 220 for women) they are launching a new selection of items made of Gore-Tex and Made in the US traditional wools. 

A new collaboration is also being launched for Pitti Uomo. In fact they are launching a special capsule collection of Blundstone boots in collaboration with the Ducati motocycle brand now revamping its Scrumbler motocycle. This new unisex boot model will carry special ageing signs that are the same ones motocycling boots carry when riding a bike for long time.