26 Feb 2024

Akubra appoints chief executive officer to drive next phase of growth and innovation

Akubra has appointed international marketing and retail executive Natalie Culina as chief executive officer, heralding a new era of growth and innovation at the iconic Australian company.

2 minute read

Ms Culina joins the business owned by Andrew and Nicola Forrest from Australian furniture retail chain Coco Republic where she was most recently global director of brand and marketing.

In a career spanning more than two decades, Ms Culina has held various global roles at some of Australia’s most successful brands, leading divisions across creative direction, brand, retail operations, visual merchandising, e-Commerce and marketing. Natalie’s retail experience spans the globe from Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada and most recently in the United States. She has spent the past decade expanding iconic Australian retail brands internationally.

Ms Culina’s career started on the retail floor selling and merchandising Levi’s jeans where she developed a passion for the industry. Since then, she has spent the past two decades working her way up the ranks at Australian heritage brands such as Country Road, King Living and most recently Coco Republic.

Tattarang chief executive officer John Hartman said Natalie was the right person to take Akubra to the next level.

“We know the task ahead includes protecting and enhancing this company’s amazing legacy,” Mr Hartman said.

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

“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.”

Natalie Culina said Akubra embodied the essence of the Australian spirit, resilience and adventure.

“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,” she said.

“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.

“I am looking forward to fully immersing myself into the business, meeting the people who have shaped Akubra’s history and have carried it to its present day. 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. 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.”

Andrew and Nicola Forrest purchased Akubra in November 2023, ensuring the company remained in Australian hands. Akubra traces its history back 148 years.

Manufacturing at its purpose-built workshop in Kempsey since 1972, Akubra continues to be a major employer for the region with about 120 team members.