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The appointment comes as part of a boardroom reshuffle following the departure of the company's chief executive, Rosstan Mazey, who had been in the role for four years.
Ms Smith, a director of WNZ since mid-2017, has more than 20 years' experience in marketing and brand leadership across a variety of industries. WNZ's longstanding grower chairman and wool industry stalwart Mark Shadbolt has stepped into the role of executive director, which he said would enable him to spend more time in-market, with the aim of generating opportunities for the business.
Mr Mazey had announced he would be leaving the Christchurch-based company for personal reasons and to follow his family's move to Wellington.
Mr Shadbolt said while the company had made some good inroads into expanding its wool markets during Mr Mazey's tenure, crossbred wool remained in a challenging commodity cycle.
"I deal with growers every day.
"It's not surprising that many are increasingly frustrated with the returns they are getting which scarcely merits shearing their sheep.
"Our focus remains on finding new outlets via new products, that appeal to the consumer, particularly in the mid micron range.''
Mr Shadbolt said while there had been some "hit and miss'' starts, notably in WNZ's stalled relationship with United States multinational Dupont, there were some silver linings.
"We are seeing positive demand for our innovative Glacial XT product, particularly in the interior design space in Europe.''
Ms Smith said she believed the wool industry was at a critical turning point to capture value for growers from the increased global demand for natural fibres and planet friendly solutions.
"I am looking forward to guiding the company through the next phase of growth with a refreshed strategy and focus on delivering the benefits of wool to consumers.''
Mr Shadbolt said he expected the recruitment process for a new chief executive to take four to six months.
- BRENT MELVILLE