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High Accolade for High Country Leader

For immediate release

October 21, 2010

High Accolade for High Country Leader

John Brakenridge, Chief Executive of The New Zealand Merino Company Limited (NZM) has scooped the coveted ‘outstanding international business leader’ award at the New Zealand International Business Awards.

Mr. Brakenridge stated that “the award recognises the 700 high country farmers that dared to be different in the way they take their product to market”, he also acknowledged the brand partners that have supported the company from the beginning the NZM staff who have established a unique culture within the industry.

Mr. Brakenridge has been at the helm of NZM since its inception in 1996. Today NZM is a $115 million per year turnover company, generating between $10 million to $15 million annually in additional value for New Zealand Merino growers.

The business model that Mr. Brakenridge has led has been to develop sustainable relationships in the marketplace and create customised marketing programmes with their brand partners. Mr. Brakenridge says NZM looks to create increased demand and awareness for wool and pass the benefits from this on to our growers.

“The award acknowledges the work done in the past, but as a forward thinking organisation we are looking to raise the bar again for the wool industry,” says Mr. Brakenridge.

The NZM business model has been so successful that it is now starting to run out of wool. Rather than look for offshore supply, NZM has embarked on a $36 million project over five years, in association with the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership.

The project will involve an integrated programme involving science, technology and innovative global market solutions. Wool will be grown for specific end retail markets and the philosophy of market partnerships will extend into an array of other income streams for New Zealand sheep farmers such as meat, lanolin and leather goods.

“We are looking forward to restoring the sheep to its former New Zealand icon status, we know this is going to be a hard task but the team is ready for the challenge” says Mr. Brakenridge.

In addition to winning the ‘outstanding international business leader’ award, NZM was also a finalist for ‘the best business operating internationally - over $50 Million’ and ‘the most innovative approach to international business’ awards.



The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM)

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM), previously Merino New Zealand, is an integrated sales, marketing and innovation company. Today NZM is responsible for the sale of approximately $115 million of fibre per annum virtually all of which is exported. This represents 80% of the New Zealand Merino clip and 50% of the New Zealand Mid-Micron clip by value.

NZM connects grower suppliers with the premium global brands that ultimately purchase their fibre. The aim was to lift New Zealand Merino fibre out of the commodity basket, identify and differentiate the fibre from its competitors and unashamedly target leaders in apparel market segments internationally.

Today, supported by NZM’s branding and marketing activities, approximately 51% of the volumes transacted by NZM per annum are through direct supply contracts. These contracts provide Merino growers with a level of price stability in addition to prices above historic average commodity prices. This helps to build sustainability and resilience into New Zealand Merino farming businesses and allows for confident on-farm investment and management.

For brand partners, including SmartWool and Ibex in the US, John Smedley, Sdwolle, Loro Piana and Reda in Europe, Nikke in Japan and Icebreaker, Mokopuna and Designer Textiles in New Zealand these contracts provide fair and sustainable pricing, consistency of supply quantity and quality, fit-for-purpose processing consignments and a direct connection with their growers.

New Zealand International Business Awards – Outstanding International Business Leader Award

This award recognises the vision, commitment and success of an outstanding leader with a long history in internationalisation. It will acknowledge overall results achieved through outstanding: planning, business model structures, operational management, research and development, financial strategy, product or service development, partnerships, and a willingness to share. The nominee will also have been an active role model and mentor over many years.

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