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Largest purchase of merino wool

18 October 2005

Icebreaker Nature Clothing has made the largest purchase of merino wool for apparel in New Zealand history.

The three-year contract, worth $30 million and totalling more than two million kilograms, is at a 30 percent premium to the current market price. This is sufficient merino to produce over one million garments per year, to meet the rapidly growing demand for Icebreaker internationally. Icebreaker is now sold in 1,500 stores in 20 countries.

CEO of The New Zealand Merino Company, John Brakenridge, said the growth of Icebreaker and its steadily increasing demand for New Zealand's merino wool underlined just what an outstanding fibre merino grow.

"From some of New Zealand's most inhospitable and wild country we are developing a product that's changing the way the world sees outdoor clothing. Icebreaker should be applauded for continuing to set the pace in developing this most exciting market."

The contract has been welcomed by high country farmers.

"It's tremendous news for the industry," says Steve Satterthwaite of Muller Station in Marlborough, one of the farmers contracted to supply Icebreaker.

Satterthwaite has contracted to sell 20,000 kilograms of merino wool to Icebreaker for each of the next three years, up from 17,000 kilograms per year over the past three years. This accounts for around a quarter of the Muller's 18.4 to 20.4 micron clip and the station is "taking any opportunity to increase this in future."

He says Icebreaker has taken the volatility out of wool selling and is now having a major impact on how the station is managed.

"We're tailoring our breeding decisions as far as possible to meet the demands of Icebreaker – that's how significant Icebreaker is for us."

He says Icebreaker is a "glowing example of what can be achieved".

"The achievements to date have been remarkable and there's the possibility of tremendous growth in the US."

ENDS

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