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.

Get our daily business news

Sign up to our free email news updates.

 
Finexia’s Childcare Income Fund secures ‘very strong’ rating from Foresight Analytics & Ratings
Partner Content
Private credit specialist Finexia Financial Group (ASX: FNX) has secured a “very...
Finexia
Advertisement

Related Stories

Macquarie Bank slapped with $10m fine after failing to monitor fraudulent transactions

Macquarie Bank slapped with $10m fine after failing to monitor fraudulent transactions

Financial services giant Macquarie Group's (ASX: MQG) bank...

Tritium charged down as administrators called in

Tritium charged down as administrators called in

Five months after attempting to turn its fortunes through jobs cuts...

Just Wines acquires collapsed spirit subscription service Liquor Loot for $1.2m

Just Wines acquires collapsed spirit subscription service Liquor Loot for $1.2m

Only eight months since rescuing non-alcoholic specialty store Sans...

UniSuper pumps $623m into Macquarie green energy and climate fund

UniSuper pumps $623m into Macquarie green energy and climate fund

One of the nation’s largest super funds, UniSuper, has commit...