Akubra’s new CEO Natalie Culina marks a first for iconic hat manufacturer

Akubra’s new CEO Natalie Culina marks a first for iconic hat manufacturer

New Akubra CEO Natalie Culina

Australian hat manufacturer Akubra has enlisted retail industry executive Natalie Culina as CEO in a first for the iconic company as it transitions its leadership team following the acquisition by Andrew and Nicola Forrest late last year.

Culina, the former global director of brand and marketing for furniture retail chain Coco Republic, is the first woman to lead Akubra which previously had been owned and operated by the Keir family for more than a century.

Culina brings to the role 20 years’ experience in retail, including stints at Country Road and King Living, along with an entrepreneurial flair that Tattarang CEO John Hartman says is essential to driving Akubra through its next phase of planned growth.

Tattarang, the Forrest family’s private investment company, acquired Akubra from the Keir family for an undisclosed sum in November last year.

For four generations the company has been headed by a succession of Keir men since the company was inherited by Stephen Keir I, the son-in-law of company founder Benjamin Dunkerley, in 1918. Dunkerley established the business in 1876 as Kensington Hat Mills at Glenorchy in Tasmania.

Hartman says Culina’s task ahead includes ‘protecting and enhancing’ Akubra’s extended legacy.

“Natalie is an executive with the right blend of business intellect and creativity that will set her up for success in this new role,” he says.

“She is very entrepreneurial in the way she approaches business and we know she is ready to roll up her sleeves and find solutions across all areas of the business.

“Her passion and her enthusiasm shines through and we really look forward to welcoming her into the Tattarang family.”

Culina’s career in retail began selling and merchandising Levi’s jeans on the shop floor where she says she developed a passion for the industry.

“At the heart of Akubra’s heritage lies a commitment to handcrafting its products in Australia from the best materials, representing an enduring quality and utilitarian style that transcends the ages,” says Culina.

“These attributes land Akubra in a league of its own. The way an Akubra hat translates into many different walks of life stylistically yet remains true to its authentic relevance is incredibly special.

“What lies ahead is a very exciting journey to be part of with the Tattarang team, having seen their success in recent years reinvigorating and growing R.M.Williams.”

Culina says she is looking forward to immersing herself in the Akubra business and meeting the people who have shaped the company’s history.

“The future of Akubra will be built upon respecting the brand’s genesis, building on the shoulders of its history, coupled with a contemporary forward vision reaching new markets,” she says.

“Most importantly, I am eager to learn how an Akubra hat is brought to life and how we can continue to honour the future of Australian manufacturing for Akubra products.”

Akubra hats have been manufactured in the NSW regional town of Kempsey since 1972, where the company employs about 120 people.

At the time of the Akubra acquisition, Tattarang said it was motivated by a desire to protect the company’s legacy and to ensure the company's products continued to be manufactured in Australia.

The buyout followed the 2020 deal by the Forrest family to bring back into Australian hands iconic bootmaker RM Williams from US private equity ownership for a reported $190 million.

The deal also preceded billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s acquisition of Driza-Bone in December last year.

Enjoyed this article?

Don't miss out on the knowledge and insights to be gained from our daily news and features.

Subscribe today to unlock unlimited access to in-depth business coverage, expert analysis, and exclusive content across all devices.

Support independent journalism and stay informed with stories that matter to you.

Subscribe now and get 50% off your first year!

Four time-saving tips for automating your investment portfolio
Partner Content
In today's fast-paced investment landscape, time is a valuable commodity. Fortunately, w...
Etoro
Advertisement

Related Stories

Owner of Houston’s Farm, Sunfresh and Gourmet Selections enters administration

Owner of Houston’s Farm, Sunfresh and Gourmet Selections enters administration

A national vertically integrated farming and ready-made salad manuf...

Body Fit Training sets sights on Scandinavia with master franchise agreement

Body Fit Training sets sights on Scandinavia with master franchise agreement

After opening up 42 new studios globally in 2024 to date, Melbourne...

AI is not a magic wand – it has built-in problems that are difficult to fix and can be dangerous

AI is not a magic wand – it has built-in problems that are difficult to fix and can be dangerous

By now, all of us have heard and read a lot about artificial intell...

Sleeping Duck founders win court case against angel investor Adir Shiffman

Sleeping Duck founders win court case against angel investor Adir Shiffman

Dr Adir Shiffman, an angel investor who helped turn around the fort...