TASMANIAN wool growers will have access to Australian Wool Network’s expanded bale-to-retail Direct Network Advantage program with AWN’s acquisition of Launceston-based Conn Wool.
AWN’s acquisition of Conn Wool as its newest buying division is the latest in a three-year expansion program for the network, with 16 outlets now operating across Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Tasmania.
AWN Victoria, Tasmania and South Australian manager Mark Quartermain said the network provided an alternative to the traditional auction selling system for Tasmanian woolgrowers, including finding markets for specialty wools, small clips and other allotments.
AWN’s newly-created specialty program DNA (Direct Network Advantage) is a bale to retail consumer-focused wool-selling option now offered to Tasmanian growers. It will be available for superior handling wools via the company’s Victorian knitwear businesses MerinoSnug and, its latest manufacturing acquisition, Hedrena.
Mr Quartermain said the specifications of 17-18 microns for the Hedrena types would, in particular, be easily met by Tasmanian growers.
He said AWN was committed to employing local people under the DNA wool supply program.
“We have had Tasmanian clients supporting us for the last 10 years – Conn Wool was a service provider for us.
“We are now offering fully-fledged private buying and direct wools straight from farm gate to mill,’’ Mr Quartermain said.
“Growers will have the benefit of being able to follow their product through the process, and be rewarded financially.’’
Former Conn Wool co-principal Jim Allchin is now AWN’s Tasmanian wool buying division manager.
Mr Allchin said DNA was an exciting project to enhance the profile of environmentally sustainable Tasmanian wools.
“Growers who place their wool with AWN have an exclusive opportunity to participate in the DNA program which offers them an attractive financial reward.
“It is an option for locally produced wool to be made into a genuine Australian made product and for growers to know exactly where their wool is being used,’’ he said.
Conn Wool was founded in 1949 by Len Conn, a respected wool classer who was regarded as an institution in the Tasmanian wool industry.
Conn Wool’s experienced staff and focus on quality customer service have been retained by AWN. Mr Allchin was impressed by AWN’s growth potential after handling the company’s direct-to-mill consignments for the past eight years.
He said AWN’s market share in Tasmania was growing rapidly.
“That will continue to grow because our focus is on wool with the bottom line being maximising returns for growers.”