AS Australia’s wool industry faces the challenges of greater transparency and China’s threatening coronavirus outbreak, a regional New South Wales broker is quietly staying ahead of the curve.
Last week, as China extended its lockdown to help contain its coronavirus outbreak, several Australian wool brokers extended the seven-day period in which they would allow buyers to pay for bought wool and store it at no cost.
But in central west New South Wales, Jemalong Wool at Forbes, Cooma and Tamworth, has been working with two-week prompts for payment and storage for the past nine years.
“We’re not extending our prompts, the other brokers are coming up to where we are,” Jemalong managing director Rowan Woods said.
Mr Woods said Jemalong about nine years ago responded to a call for help to extend prompts from buyers who were funding large wool purchases.
“So we extended our prompts permanently to 14 days after liaising with our growers, but nobody else jumped on board.”
Ostini Wool at Parkes has also been on similar longer payment and storage prompt periods since 1985. Principal Graeme Ostini recognises that prompt period is a decision for each broker, but he has the support of his growers and it suits his trade customers.
Jemalong supports NWD adoption push
Mr Woods said Jemalong also supported recent moves led by Dubbo broker, Macdonald and Co, to make the National Wool Declaration a condition of sale.
He said Jemalong Wools has been achieving a 90 percent completion rate for NWDs for the past two years.
“We are already on about 90pc adoption rate of the National Wool Declaration and I want to support the push.”
Mr Woods said all Jemalong Wool’s grower clients are required to complete an NWD and can only be listed in a ‘premium’ section of the company’s auction catalogue “by being fully declared.”
“The only ones we can’t get it for are obviously the door trade clients.
“We make it a requirement of our operation that the NWD is completed fully and we’ve had a person on full-time chasing them up.”
Mr Woods said the declaration often comes in unsigned by the grower, who had wrongly thought it was the classer’s responsibility.
“Don is trying to set an example that hopefully the Western Australian wool growers will follow.
“Their NWD adoption rate is languishing down at about 45pc – I would like to support Don’s push in this area,” he said.
“We’ve been pushing the NWD since its inception and I understand we were the first broker to incorporate it onto our classer’s speci to force them to do it.”
Mr Woods believes NWD completion should be a mandatory condition of sale.
No smoke and mirrors – Woods
Mr Woods said his business had an internal slogan that his workers operated by: “no smoke and mirrors.”
“We have tried as a company to be totally transparent in every way from what we charge our growers and to what we charge the buyers; we’ve never had a problem with telling people what our post-sale charge is and there are no add-ons such as insurance or lot fees.
Mr Woods said his company acted proactively on issues like transparency and prompts because it listened to its growers and buyer clients.
Jemalong Wool is the third biggest broker in Sydney and the ninth largest nationally. Listening to growers has also kept the company out of diversifying into merchandising.
“We always get a unanimous ‘no’, so we just keep wool broking, and I think the answer is that we just keep listening to the people we deal with.”