Shifting half of New Zealand’s crossbred wool clip to higher value fine wool contracts could boost the economy by about $2 billion, says NZ Merino Company (NZM) chief executive John Brakenridge.
The supply deal will see Swanndri take a minimum of 30 tonnes of wool from NZM’s supply network of Merino, mid-micron and strong woolgrowers for use across Swanndri’s entire clothing and accessories range.
Swanndri say NZM wool products will be used in items from jackets and vests to baby blankets and luggage. They will use strong wool, much of it sourced from Landcorp properties, to produce their iconic Swanndri jackets.
Swanndri chief executive Mark Nevin says the partnership with NZM aims to support the company’s plans for growth in both rural and urban markets in New Zealand and overseas.
“We require wool and New Zealand wool is best. NZM can supply us with the quantity of fibre we need and, most importantly, of the quality that our customers and we demand. It also ensures traceability to underline our New Zealand authenticity, which is particularly important in the Northern Hemisphere.”
Swanndri has a 102-year history in New Zealand and continues to grow its profile internationally, with retail partnerships in Europe, North America and Australia.
The company has also extended its product range beyond its traditional rural base to incorporate contemporary designs that appeal to urban customers.
“Our rural market segment remains significant but, as a company, we have also had to change the way we look at what we do and the world we’re operating in. More and more people are living in cities and we’ve designed new, contemporary lines with urban consumers in mind, while retaining all the traditional attributes of Swanndri,” says Nevin.
Swanndri’s traditional retail presence is also evolving, with its apparel now available through New Zealand high street fashion leader Barker’s.
As well as contemporary design and proven performance, Nevin says provenance was an increasingly important factor driving customer demand for Swanndri apparel.
“The New Zealand ‘story’ holds great appeal for consumers both here and overseas. In the case of our partnership with NZM, every product can be traced back to a New Zealand farm committed to the highest standards in animal welfare, environment and product quality.
“That’s a significant and valuable differentiator for us in what are very competitive markets.”
NZM commercial manager Keith Ovens agrees.
“We know from our experience with fine wool that certain brands place huge value in product sourced from New Zealand farms. For the past year, we’ve been extending this model to mid-micron and strong wool and we’re achieving excellent success with new brand partnerships.”