New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge
signs a deal with Japanese company Nikke. Photo supplied.
The signing of $2.5 million worth of New Zealand Merino
contracts by Japanese brand Nikke has been heralded as a
The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and its fine wool
growers have a 17-year relationship with the Japanese
manufacturer of wool textiles.
NZM described the deal, signed in Osaka, as marking an
''exciting new era'' in the partnership. Contracts were
concluded for 132 tonnes of 14.3, 15.3, 16.3, 17.3, 19.5 and
21.5 micron, at prices ''significantly superior'' to today's
Nikke was looking to buy significantly more'' of its required
volumes from New Zealand. It was currently 6%, NZM's Japanese
market manager Mike Hargadon said.
NZM has been workingclosely with Nikke to establish a new
range of fabrics called Lezel Romance of the Regions. It told
the legends of each of the main merino growing areas from
12.5 to 17.5 micron throughout the South Island and the
reception during the launch phase has been extremely
The stronger contracted fibres (19.5 and 21 micron) were
destined for Nikke's expanding uniform business. The Japanese
company was ''very, very big'' in the uniform business and
provided a lot of uniforms for emergency services and also
for corporate companies. A lot of wool and wool blends was
used at that end of the market.
The company's director of textile business had been
converting schools to use Nikke's ZQ merino uniforms as a
point of difference in an increasingly competitive school
market. There were now 56 schools connected with New Zealand
through their choice of uniforms.
''We're excited about the huge potential with Nikke, as they
chase their global aspirations.
''It's easy to say things take too long in Japan or its not
the boom country it once was but their passion and knowledge
of wool is immense, as is their respect for the efforts of
New Zealand's merino growers,'' Mr Hargadon said.
In the last six months, the company's senior executives had
visited New Zealand three times, which showed their keenness,
The deal was a boost for the finer end of the market, which
has been under pressure. New Zealand Merino chief executive
John Brakenridge said it was extremely important to be
developing stable, high value markets for growers of those
finer wool types, particularly as fine wools were flooding on
to the market in Australia and consequently there was a
pessimistic commodity outlook for fine wool prices.