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NZ Merino Champions of Business Sustainability

For immediate release
December 3, 2009

New Zealand Merino Champions of Business Sustainability

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) has been named winner of the Supreme Award for medium sized businesses at the inaugural Sustainable 60 Awards held in Auckland on Wednesday night.

NZM was credited with helping the fine-wool industry extricate itself from the boom and bust of the commodity cycle by founding a brand that relies on product integrity.

NZM chief executive John Brakenridge says it is no longer good enough to claim sustainable practices, companies have to prove it.

"Product integrity is huge globally and providing transparency of fibre origin and substance is really important to our national and international brand partners”, he says.

NZM’s substance brand, Zque, identifies growers that are meeting high standards for fibre quality, animal welfare, social sustainability and economic sustainability.

“Zque enables visibility through the value chain which has attracted international brands to exclusively sign with us to use our Zque qualifying fibre”.

Mr Brakenridge says NZM’s growers have been supporting the transition to a more sustainable model for selling their fibre since the long term fibre supply contract system was introduced around ten years ago.

“The ‘business of sustainability’ is not only the right thing to do for us, it is also consistent with our business model, our customer demands and achieving commercial benefits. Through focusing on what retail brands need, NZM is able to drive for higher returns for growers. It’s a journey for us, we’ve made some progress but won’t be stopping here”, Mr Brakenridge says.

Now, over 50% of NZM’s transactions are via contract with international brand partners. This provides economic security to the individual grower, sustainability of our unique farming communities and that growers continue to act as custodians of the high country, sustainably managing the land for future generations.

The awards, attracting more than 110 individual entries across five categories, aim to raise awareness of sustainability, and redefine sustainability as being more than just 'going green'.

Judges say that correlation between sustainability and commercial success was plain to see in the award entries.

NZM shares the medium size business title with Urgent Couriers.

ENDS

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