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Wool Company Claims Questioned

Wool Company Claims Questioned

Wool exporters are questioning the validity of much of the publicity about the new Wool Company and say that recently appointed Chairman, Ms Theresa Gattung, has been thrown a hospital pass on a subject that she demonstrated yesterday that she knows absolutely nothing about.

Wool Exporters Council executive manager, Nick Nicholson said today that the formation of the new company seems to be all about smoke and mirrors with very little in the way of any real knowledge of, or experience in, marketing wool.

He said that there is a lot of rhetoric but very little truth in many of the claims made by the Wool Industry Network about what the problems of the wool industry really are.

“Most of the comments by Ms Gattung at the launch of the company on Thursday were nothing short of appalling and her analogies with rugby were, at best bizarre.” said Mr Nicholson “But there were some good bits. They were her references to working with architects and designers to promote wool use.”

“These were of course almost direct quotes from a recent worldwide study of Interior Textiles to which the New Zealand wool industry, including the Exporters Council, was the major financial contributor.”

“Unfortunately that study has languished without any real action after it was high-jacked by a group involving Wools of New Zealand and WIN. We can see now why they didn’t want the rest of the industry to be credited with involvement in this. Obviously they want those ideas to be seen as part of their own “new and innovative” thinking.”

Mr Nicholson said that the wider wool industry and wool growers in particular need to get some answers from WIN about two things in particular.

“Firstly, where did WIN get the mandate to run off and start a new company? As its own website shows, the WIN survey of the industry shows that it only got 47 grower responses and even assuming that they all supported it, that is hardly a mandate from 15000 or more wool growers.”

“Equally, they claim that there were some 70 industry responses. I can tell you from involvement with a number of those that made submissions, that most of those vehemently opposed what WIN was planning, basically on the grounds that much of the basis of their ideas was factually incorrect.”

Secondly, also on the WIN website is the promise to undertake “a robust economic impact assessment in 2008”.

“Well, no-one has seen that yet. I am assuming that as the promise includes the word impact the study will be assessing the economic impact on the wider industry and presumably will include some provisions to compensate anyone in the industry that is financially harmed by the formation of this new company.”

Exporters dispute claims earlier in the week by the Wool Industry Network that the new company has wide industry support. “The Network has been saying this since it first decided to start a new company to take over the industry. In fact the proposal has little or no support outside of the WIN office.” Mr Nicholson said.

“There is no support from any wool exporting company, no support from the wool broking or wool scouring sectors, private wool merchants don’t want to know, New Zealand wool carpet manufacturers haven’t shown any interest and there seems to be very little, if any grower support.” “So, where is all this support coming from?” Mr Nicholson asked.

“Certainly PGGWrightson have got involved, but commentators up and down the country, not just in the wool industry have been referring to the offloading of PGGWrightson wool to the new company as the deal of the century,” Mr Nicholson said.

“By default the new company has picked up a small but very experienced wool exporting company, but that was because it had already been purchased by PGGWrightson, not because it actively opted into the WIN proposals.”

Mr Nicholson said the new company talks about long term contracts with offshore customers as if this is something new and innovative.

“This is one of an endless string of statements that have come from WIN, the new company and many of the individuals closely associated with the proposals. It is just another example of how little these people know about the industry operates in the international market.”

“These sorts of comments are clearly couched to suggest that this does not already happen and clearly, are intended to discredit the wool exporting sector and our international customers” he said

“If I was a wool grower, I would be very cautious about committing anything to this new company. It has no wool marketing experience. It has no customers in a world where customers are become increasingly fewer. The only way it can get into the market is through underselling existing exporters and we know that it has already started down that track, to the considerable cost of wool growers.


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