New Woolrich president seeks larger role in outdoor innovation for heritage brand

Woolrich promoted Nick Brayton to be its new president Tuesday. Brayton is steeped in the company’s family history, but also brings fresh perspective to the 182-year-old brand, telling SNEWS he sees the opportunity for Woolrich to move beyond its heritage role in the industry.

Woolrich promoted Nick Brayton to be its new president Tuesday, a person steeped in the company’s family history, but who also brings fresh perspective to the 182-year old brand.

Brayton, 33, the company’s previous director of domestic licensing, is a seventh-generation descendant of Woolrich founder John Rich. He also is the son of former Woolrich President and CEO Roswell Brayton Jr., who died prematurely in 2007. The younger Brayton replaces James Griggs, who served as president between father and son. Griggs resigned from the position in April 2011, but has remained with the company throughout the transition.

Brayton told SNEWS he foresees a greater role for Woolrich as an innovator in the outdoor industry beyond it’s established heritage position.

“We consider our position [in the outdoor industry] now as a purposeful lifestyle brand, but one of our initiatives will be to move toward a leadership position in performance wool,” Brayton said. The goal, he said, is to be more research and development driven within wool categories such baselayers and outerwear.

“We certainly think we can and should be, but we know we can’t do it overnight,” Brayton said. The challenge, he added, will be balancing the company’s heritage with future innovations.

In other executive appointments, Woolrich promoted Josh Rich, another descendant of company’s founder, as its new international vice president and John Ranelli as its new board chairman and CEO. Officials presented Ranelli’s role as one of guidance “as the company transitions to family leadership.” Ranelli, who joined the company’s board of directors in 2011, previously held the CEO position at Mikasa and FGX International. He also served in executive roles at Deckers Outdoor and Timberland.

Officials said Brian Mangione, who served as Woolrich's executive vice president since early 2010, is no longer with the company.

--David Clucas


Q&A Roswell Brayton, CEO of Woolrich

This summer Woolrich celebrated its 175th anniversary, as 2,000 people, including customers, employees and their families, gathered in Woolrich, Pa., to honor the country's oldest continuously operating apparel manufacturer. Any company that lasts 175 years sees dramatic changes, more