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Primary Wool and Curtis Wool Direct merger talks

Primary Wool and Curtis Wool Direct in merger talks.

Primary Wool and Curtis Wool Direct, the UK parent company of Wool Direct in New Zealand, have agreed to work together on an exciting new project that would lead to a merger of their respective operations in New Zealand.

Both Primary and Curtis see this as an important step in the wool reform process that has been targeted in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom. The intention is that the new Company will trade as Primary Wool Direct and will be established with substantial funding and managed with equal representation on the board of this new venture.

Acting CEO of Primary Wool, Peter Harrison and John Dransfield, Managing Director of Wool Direct in New Zealand, will be working closely over the coming weeks in detailing the business plan for the merger.

The merged Company will be the first fully integrated wool procurement and world wide marketing company in New Zealand. It is the first time local farming interests and an overseas owned exporter have established a business along these radical lines.

Primary Wool directors, Donald Cooper and Mike Murray have been impressed with the openness of discussions held with Simon Curtis, joint managing director of Curtis Wool Direct, during one of his regular visits to New Zealand, in that many of the marketing strategies he is passionate about fit very well with the ambitions of Primary Wool.

In particular, there will be a far closer relationship between the grower and the mill customers in export markets. Simon Curtis has indicated the willingness of several well established and substantial customers who would welcome this enhanced level of communication that will give the grower a far more informed view of the requirements of the end user. He has also identified the benefit of the concept of 'back-to-back' contracts that are of particular interest to many New Zealand wool growers.

Curtis Wool Direct was formed as a result of a merger between the wool interests of the Curtis family in the UK and Norsk Kjottsmavirke BA (Norwegian Meat Cooperative) - a farmers co-operative with over 31,000 members.

NK has 5,600 employees and a turnover of over 1.5 billion Euros. The aim of NK is to optimise sales of Norwegian meat and wool products and create value for the farmer members/owners by offering vertical integration'. Their meat promotion in Norway includes a phrase that describes their philosophy - 'from farm to fork' - a concept that has a remarkably similar tone to the 'farm to yarn' product that Primary Wool promotes.

Experience gained from the successful merger between NK and Curtis will prove invaluable as a similar approach to marketing and branding would certainly lead to greater market recognition for New Zealand wool.

Not only will there be benefits from the way wool is exported but local market presence will be strong with the two merger companies supplying to a wide variety of carpet mills and spinners in New Zealand.

The UK company is managed by Simon and Martin Curtis. The Curtis family has been in the wool business for generations and was responsible for the radical wool reform initiatives seen in Europe recently and is keen to see this process carry on in New Zealand.

The Curtis finance director is a New Zealander, Stuart Gair, who has a wealth of knowledge gained from working in several sectors of the wool industry throughout Europe and New Zealand.

This merger will attract significant interest in the wool industry and will be of benefit to all stakeholders.

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