Direct links to multiple brands and knowing the preparation required help growers through difficult times

Fabrizio, Ercole, Francesco and Guglielmo Botto Poala from Reda (Italy)
Fabrizio, Ercole, Francesco and Guglielmo Botto Poala from Reda (Italy)
The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) has continued to onboard new brand partners in the past year despite the challenging global wool market, its GM Commercial, Keith Ovens, says it is about matching the right wool to the right end use.

“We pair the right wool to the right brand’s needs. Our marketing team is out in the international market, regularly meeting with new customers to supplement the over 130 brand partners who make up our base,” says Keith.

The latest brands to embrace NZM’s ethical ZQRX wool offering include Rodd&Gunn, iconic Finnish design house Marimekko and US-based performance innerwear brand Branwyn.

NZM is known for brand links and contracts, which are currently delivering millions above the commodity market to its growers and Keith says that in today’s market conditions optionality and brand insights are the keys to keeping things moving.

“We talk about fit-for-purpose wool, there isn’t any one standard of prep that works for every brand, every spinner, every final use. It’s easier when under forward contracts of course, but brand relationships also lead to other direct sales.

“Our brand relationships mean that growers, contractors, classers and wool handlers know in advance the prep requirements for each clip. Brokers with no links to market rely solely on local auctions and doing a blanket traditional prep for all wool.”

Neil Baker, Senior Global Creative Director Icebreaker at Middlehurst Station
Neil Baker, Senior Global Creative Director Icebreaker at Middlehurst Station

“New Zealand wool has a great reputation but other countries are catching up and consumer awareness around sustainability and ethical production is growing quickly. Our ZQ ethical wool-sourcing programme was the first of its kind now the ethical wool space is quite crowded and we continually evolve our programmes to stay ahead of the market and consumer demands,” says Keith.

Outside of the wool sold into forward contracts, growers supplying NZM also benefit from the company’s reputation in the market and the variety of sales channels it accesses. NZM sells directly to brands and trusted supply chain partners and is a regular fixture at the Melbourne auctions where the larger international buyer pool ensures better returns.

“Even now, with commodity markets heavily impacted by inflation and a global downtrend in consumer spending, our Melbourne lots are regularly attracting competitive bidders and much higher prices than they would at home,” says Keith.

At the Melbourne auction, NZM regularly offers the only 100% Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) catalogue in the world. Growers supplying its ZQ and ZQRX wool sourcing programmes also receive certification to the RWS, maintained internationally by the Textile Exchange, a requirement of many global brands.

“We know certification can seem daunting, or burdensome but we have arranged a dual audit system, meaning our growers have just one audit which confirms they meet the standards for both the ZQ programme and RWS certification – and the premiums speak for themselves,” says Keith

Iconic Italian brand, Reda,  celebrates 30 years of farming in New Zealand
Iconic Italian brand, Reda, celebrates 30 years of farming in New Zealand

 

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