In a rare case where a company is acquiring control on a global basis of the brand it distributes or licenses in certain territories, Italy's WP Lavori in Corso is merging its operations with those of Woolrich Inc. to form a new company, Woolrich International, in which it will have a stake of about 80 percent. The balance will remain in the hands of the Rich family, which founded the outerwear brand in 1830 in Woolrich, Pennsylvania.

Lavori in Corso has done an excellent job in developing the lifestyle offerings of the brand and expanding its presence in Europe and Asia. Cristina Calori, chairman and chief executive of the Italian company and its Woolrich Europe subsidiary, will act as chairman of Woolrich International, which will be based in London. Andrea Cané, creative director of Woolrich Europe, will see his role expanded globally. Nicholas Brayton, a 7th generation descendant of the founder, John Rich, will continue to be responsible for the North American market.

The new company will have annual sales of around €170 million this year. The business plans calls for them to grow by 12 percent a year, reaching €266 million or $300 million by 2020, partly by raising the number of Woolrich stores from 25 to at least 60. The shareholders are contemplating a public offering at the end of this strategic plan to help the brand to enter a new phase of international development.

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