Primary Wool Co-Operative (PWC) and Wools of New Zealand (WONZ) have begun formal discussions about combining operations as they seek to capture more value for farmers.
“Now, more than ever, the wool industry must collaborate to get a better financial results for farmers,” says WONZ chairman James Parsons.
“Bringing together two like-minded grower organisations will be an important first step in rejuvenating a relatively dire current economic situation for wool.
“Having over 2,000 passionate sheep farmers under one umbrella and building a stronger entity to represent those farmer interests will offer the combined scale and vision required to make a difference for New Zealand’s sheep industry.
“Our goal is to capture more value by building stronger more direct relationships with customers and consumers. WONZ has already been doing that but we have never had the scale to turn the dial.
“Combining with PWC, representing its 1400 farmer shareholders and its 50 per cent ownership of Carrfields Primary Wool (CPW), will mean we can achieve scale, reinvent the supply chain and improve efficiencies, enabled by the increased volume, brands and exporting focus WONZ bring to the table.”
Hamish de Lautour, chairman of PWC, says the collaboration will help position wool where it belongs.
“If wool is to capitalise on its rightful place as the sustainable fibre of choice for consumers, the stronger entity must focus on marketing and extracting value from products made of wool and not just trading wool as a commodity.
“Both PWC through Carrfields Primary Wool and its subsidiaries and WONZ have been developing similar strategies and doing that jointly makes real sense. PWC, in its joint venture with Carrfields, has invested significantly in the Just Shorn programme and the NZ Yarn spinning mill.
“WONZ agree this an excellent model. Our view is WONZ has wide global connections and developed loyal direct contract supply to the likes of fabric manufacturer Camira and bedding manufacturer Enkev.
“WONZ and PWC shareholders have all got ‘skin in the game’ and have invested cash to build their respective businesses. By working together, we are far better positioned to deliver for our grower shareholders, the sector and the country.”
Mr Parsons says both WONZ and PWC envisage a lean simple commercial structure that delivers the opportunity for other grower groups and new grower shareholders to join.
“Due to the nature of the company structures, combining operations will take time but there is a strong commitment from WONZ and PWC that this is a prize worth pursuing.
“Past wool industry reports have called for the formation of a grower co-operative and a marketing company and have consistently recommended the industry consolidates, gets closer to the consumer and invests in stronger marketing efforts. The great news is both these entities already exist so we must seize the initiative and make this happen.
“We are also supportive of the goals of the Government’s Wool Industry Project Action Group and we’re keen to work with others in the industry to ensure a prosperous future for the sector.
“Combining operations will give us the critical mass to deliver on our vision, provides functional benefits, and importantly, the scale to pick up strategic commercial projects that we hope will emanate from the Action Group.”
Carrfields Primary Wool Chairman Craig Carr is excited by the prospect of grower unity.
“Carrfields is very supportive of grower consolidation and growers speaking with one voice. There are lots of natural synergies with WONZ and PWC teaming up. Carrfields has a long-established relationship with PWC and look forward to the export and marketing function WONZ will bring as we implement some necessary changes in the sector.”
Collectively, the shareholders of WONZ and Primary Wool Co-Operative, along with other farmers supplying the Primary Wool Co-Operative’s joint venture CPW, produce over a third of New Zealand’s entire strong wool clip.
For more information, please contact:
Hamish de Lautour
Primary Wool Co-Operative Limited was formed in 1974 by a group of Hawke’s Bay farmers to increase the returns for wool growers. Over the ensuing decades, membership has grown to over 1,400 right across New Zealand, with new shareholders still joining and significant investment being made into the NZ wool industry.
Wools of New Zealand is a 100 per cent New Zealand grower-owned supply, sales and export marketing company with 730 grower shareholders representing approximately 14.5 million kilograms of annual strong wool production.