Monday, April 22, 2024

A win-win deal for consumers and farmers

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Thousands more Kiwi homes will be carpeted in wool following a landmark agreement between Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) and leading retailer Flooring Xtra. Other independent retail stores are also in the partnership mix with WNZ in its bid to get affordable wool carpets into NZ homes.
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Starting this month, WNZ will manufacture and supply wool carpet to Flooring Xtra’s 61 stores and independent flooring retailers across NZ.

Priced competitively compared with synthetic carpets, means New Zealanders have a genuine choice between a synthetic product or a natural product direct from WNZ’s 730 farmer-grower shareholders, WNZ chief executive John McWhirter says.

The wool carpets will be available at more than 100 outlets across NZ.

“The agreement with Flooring Xtra represents a win-win for consumers and farmers,” McWhirter said.

“We firmly believe carpets don’t have to cost the earth.

“Our goal is to grow the consumption of strong wool in the market by making wool carpet affordable to most Kiwis.

“We can achieve this by utilising modern high-volume manufacturing operations, without impacting on quality and taking costs out of the supply chain.”

This will be the first grower-owned NZ carpet brand to have grown its own wool fibre and supply a finished product to the NZ market, creating a strong branded connection with consumers.

McWhirter says one of the key barriers to increasing sales of wool carpets in the past has been affordability.

“A 48-ounce 100% wool carpet now only costs 5% more for an average house lot, which makes it an extremely compelling proposition for Kiwis to choose wool over synthetic carpet,” he said.

As WNZ embarked on its blueprint to help turn the sector’s fortunes around, it was quickly identified that carpet accounted for 53% of the strong wool clip. 

This meant that entering the carpet market and creating an affordable range of quality wool carpets would be the fastest way to fix the excess wool production.

Wool is one of the safest, sustainable and most eco-friendly carpet fibres available.

It is 100% renewable, biodegradable and grown in NZ, with a carbon footprint 14 times lower than synthetic. 

Its environmental attributes are increasingly in step with consumer and government expectations.

“Taking control of the value chain moves our grower shareholders from essentially commodity traders and price takers to brand owners and price makers,” he said.

Like other NZ wool product manufacturers such as Icebreaker, the carpet is manufactured overseas.

“Manufacturing in NZ is expensive relative to overseas, so adding value offshore enables us to offer a competitively priced product with a robust margin,” he said. 

“Our European-based manufacturer also serves as a great launching pad to service the market in the Northern Hemisphere.”

WNZ chair James Parsons says carpet moves significant volumes of wool and this is an example of taking responsibility for getting branded woollen products to the consumer rather than relying on others to do it.

WNZ is seeking to capture greater returns at the branded consumer end of the market so it can reinvest in demand-creation activities.

He says the launch of WNZ carpets provides a platform for other strong wool branded products as well as the potential for a rollout into other overseas markets

“We believe that NZ over-produces wool by about 40,000 bales, about 6% of production, and this in turn lowers price,” Parsons said. 

“The goal is to turn this around.”

WNZ is a 100% NZ grower-owned supply, sales and export marketing company, with 730 grower shareholders representing 14.5 million kilograms of annual strong wool production.

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