Covering the Whole of the Value Chain
The business model of the Wolford Group, and thus its special characteristic, is based on its management of the entire value chain, from design and development to production to global omni-channel distribution, including proprietary boutiques. That makes the company highly autonomous and enables it to react quickly, for example to the latest fashion trends. The company is supported by external partners and select suppliers in sections of its Lingerie and Ready-to-wear ranges. Tasks relating to product development are centralized at the company’s headquarters in Bregenz.
When developing a new collection, product management, the design team and product development all work hand in hand. Product management analyzes trends and identifies the products that will be in demand in the market – these findings then form the basis for the work performed by the design team. The close cooperation between design and product development in turn results in a stream of new products, often based on new production methods, such as 3D printing or the adhesive technology which has been developed by Wolford and is now patented. “Pure Tights”, the world’s first glued tights, are one result of this cooperation.
Product and merchandise management also deal with requirements planning for the retail sales areas at proprietary boutiques and for wholesale customers. This department determines which articles have to be produced in which quantities and colors and for which retail floors. It also controls the flow of goods from the warehouse to retail surfaces.
In procurement, it is nearly all about materials. The raw materials, and yarns in particular, are procured from long-standing partners in neighboring regions in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, as are upstream lingerie products and externally purchased Lingerie and Ready-to-wear products. All these suppliers share Wolford’s high standards when it comes to the quality and innovation of their products. Some of the yarns are sourced from Japan, a country known for its innovative materials. All raw materials are stored at the company’s headquarters in Bregenz and prepared here for subsequent production and assembly.
Production takes place at the location in Bregenz, which serves as a textile development and production center, and in Murska Sobota (Slovenia), where the largely manual assembly activities are performed by 224 employees (FTE). The knitting mill in Bregenz processes around 233,000 kilometers of yarn each day. Around 11,600 pairs of tights, 3,400 pairs of stockings, and 1,000 bodies are manufactured each day on around 330 individually modified knitting machines.
Finished products are stored in three warehouses – at the central warehouse in Bregenz, which also supplies the online business in Europe, and in two other warehouses in the US and China. The warehouse in the US supplies the online business in the American market, while that in China supplies the Asian region.