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Wool Industry Network Winds Up Operational Side

Media Release

29 October 2008

Wool Industry Network Winds Up Operational Activites

The Wool Industry Network (WIN) and its funding partners Meat & Wool New Zealand and NZ Trade and Enterprise, announced today that while the development of WIN's initiative will continue, its operational activities have been wound up, effective as of 30 September 2008.

Established in 2006, the Network was set up with a mandate to improve the economic return of wool to New Zealand. Over the past two years it has worked closely with all sectors of the industry to ascertain the key issues and to develop and implement a wool sector strategy to bring about change.

In October 2007 the Network released its market-led science strategy - NZ Wool Sector Science Strategy Phase 1 - A Future in Wool and in December its industry strategy A Model for Change that identified four key priorities: innovative marketing, grower unification, consolidation of the clip and industry collaboration.

It recommended two vehicles be formed to achieve these, but importantly continued with an implementation plan, catalysing the formation of the grower owned Wool Grower Holdings Ltd, and a new commercial entity jointly owned by farmers and industry, Wool Partners International Ltd, initially known by the working title The Wool Company.

Wool Industry Chairman, Sue Sheldon says, "The work of the Network is now all but complete. The Wool Industry Network was established to come up with a solution to improve returns on strong wool. We have developed and released the strategy that we believe will achieve this and have put in place Wool Grower Holdings and Wool Partners International as the two key initiatives to drive the industry change."

"Wool Industry Network CEO Mike Jones has joined Wool Partners International as General Manager - Commercial and this continuity will be valuable in ensuring the transition from strategy to implementation."

Chairman of Meat & Wool New Zealand Mike Petersen has praised the work of the Wool Industry Network and the outcomes it has achieved.

"There is no doubt that WIN has been the catalyst for change that we were seeking when Meat & Wool New Zealand started the initiative two and a half years ago. Recent publicity has clearly shown that all parts of the industry are now looking at how they can function better to improve returns for growers and others.

We are particularly pleased with the proposal to partner farmers alongside commercial companies in Wool Partners International, to develop innovative marketing for wool and wool products around the world. There is now a window of opportunity for farmers to choose to join the initiative as shareholders and suppliers, and we urge farmers to give this due consideration when the prospectus is offered to them in coming months.

Unlike efforts in the past, this initiative has delivered a vehicle that can assist in generating better returns for farmers and the wider industry"

Two further WIN initiatives that will be finalised in coming months are the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST) Wool Research Consortium, and the Wool Enterprise Programme.

A FRST Wool Research Consortium is expected to be up and running by 30 June 2009. The Consortium will see specific investment for the wool industry matched dollar for dollar by the Government.

Disbanding the WIN operation has enabled Meat & Wool New Zealand funding to be reassigned into the establishment of what is now called the Wool Enterprise Programme. This programme is aimed at supporting market driven smaller wool industry initiatives and will also initially be funded by NZ Trade and Enterprise and will receive in-kind support from Wool Partners International and other commercial partners.

"The Wool Research Consortium and the Wool Enterprise Programme will complete the vision we had at Meat & Wool New Zealand in 2004 to assist in reorganising the strong wool sector," Mr Petersen said.

"Our aim was to form partnerships between farmers and industry to innovate in the market and capture better returns for growers and industry. We also wanted more transparency in the value chain that generated better market led research outcomes. The strategy work has provided the real opportunity for change to happen, within the timeframe we had allowed," Petersen said.

WIN initiative was funded by Meat & Wool New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise under the Major Regional Initiative program and was set up to have a fixed life expectancy of three years.


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