Thursday, August 11, 2022

Strong backing for new wool venture

National Council of NZ Wool Interests chair Rosstan Mazey is confident Wool Impact will have the capability to support and accelerate growth and innovation across New Zealand’s strong wool sector.

“As a member-funded group representing key participants from across the sector, we know that cohesion across our entire supply chain, right from shearers to exporters, is crucial in creating more demand and value for NZ’s strong wool growers and sector,” Mazey said. 

“Securing Government and industry funding demonstrates the firm belief that there is a vibrant future in front of us when we work together. 

“Wool Impact will be critical in taking this momentum forward and in seriously strengthening the effort with dedicated capability, co-ordination, and resource,” he said.

Carpet brand Wools of NZ chief executive John McWhirter says the new organisation will help fuel innovation and generate new demand for strong wool consumer brands, products and services. 

“The Wool Impact directors bring the breadth of skills, diverse experience and dedication required to continue our industry’s hard work to lift the volume and value of NZ strong wool,” McWhirter said. 

“We welcome the new board of directors and acknowledge they have the essential commercial and governance expertise needed to drive momentum for our industry.”

Campaign For Wool NZ Trust (CFWNZT) chair Tom O’Sullivan says it is pleasing the announcement has finally been made and congratulates the directors on their appointments. 

The CFWNZT board believes that the wool industry must do things differently and core to this is uniting behind a common strategy for NZ strong wool, O’Sullivan says.

“We will therefore be eager to meet with the new Wool Impact team and commence discussions on how we can collaborate positively behind an overarching common strategy to position NZ strong wool as the best natural wool fibre in the world,” he said.

“We cannot forget that for most strong wool farmers, wool is currently a cost to their business, so we must move with absolute urgency to establish our common strategy and get cracking with delivering on it and return wool to being a significant revenue stream for farmers once again.”

NZ’s only wool scourer WoolWorks will contribute $2.4m to support the new industry good organisation.

Investment director Maja Sliwinski at Tanarra Capital Partners, a WoolWorks shareholder, says the investment in Wool Impact demonstrates the company’s confidence in the sector and the future of wool.

“WoolWorks is committed to the long-term future and betterment of the NZ wool industry,” Sliwinski said.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we like what we see in Wool Impact’s three-year work programme. 

“We are confident that Wool Impact will help steer the wool industry back onto a more sustainable and profitable path.”

WoolWorks shareholder David Ferrier says NZ is set to benefit from the increasing popularity of wool as a natural fibre.

“Wool is gaining a growing stature in the drive towards using more sustainable and natural products as a replacement for oil-based products,” Ferrier said.

“Wool is uniquely placed to take advantage of this trend and WoolWorks wants to be doing our bit to make sure this happens.”

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says Wool Impact is charged with making wool a compelling and affordable alternative to synthetic fibres, reversing the significant under-investment of the past three decades that has resulted in poor returns for growers and others across the supply chain.

But he says renewed strong wool success will only be possible if the wider sector gets behind new initiatives.

“There’s no single idea or Government policy to solve the wool sector’s problems,” O’Connor said.

“We need a collaborative approach, and Wool Impact is the catalyst to make this happen.

“Around the world I want designers, procurement managers, landlords and homeowners seeing value in wool – not cost. 

“And I want to see sheep farmers investing in rams for wool production.

“Those will be the metrics of this project’s success.”

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