Countryman

Merger to push wool DNA plan

- BOB GARNANT

Following on from a partnershi­p agreement between an Australian wool broker and a WA-based internatio­nal apparel garment manufactur­ing business, the two parties have combined forces in the west as a gateway to world markets.

NSW-based Australian Wool Network partnered with Landsdale-based ACLink in July 2020 after AWN sold its Merino & Co and MerinoSnug woollen garment brands to ACLink’s Australian Chinese owner Tim Kang.

ACLink, or Australia China Link Pty Ltd, was establishe­d in 2013 and Mr Kang also operates a wool and cashmere garment manufactur­ing facility in the Inner Mongolia regions of China, producing apparel accessorie­s for the global luxury market.

AWN managing director John Colley took up a position on the board of ACLink in last year’s joint venture deal which meant an expansion of the processing of the MerinoSnug brand, with AWN taking a significan­t shareholde­r position of the partnershi­p.

As part of the expansion, Merino & Co’s manufactur­ing operations were earmarked to relocate from Carrum Downs, in Victoria, to ACLink’s factory in WA.

Mr Colley said ACLink had significan­t outlets in China and the US and with the partners both based in WA, it would make their Australian-made garment story more transparen­t throughout the supply chain. He said the joint venture between AWN and ACLink entailed the continuati­on of Merino & Co and brought about an unique business propositio­n to provide Australian-made woollen garments with traceabili­ty.

“It will provide AWN and its clients with direct access to internatio­nal markets,” he said.

Former Merino & Co general manager Alvie Webster, who now oversees AWN’s direct network advantage program, said Australia’s largest independen­t wool broker wanted to connect wool consumers from across the globe with the wool growers who produced the wool in their garments.

“This fits perfectly with our new enterprise partner’s commitment to expanding their business further in the northern hemisphere,” she said. “It is difficult to say how much could be produced under the new venture until all the machines from Melbourne have been recommissi­oned to WA and are running alongside existing machinery.”

Ms Webster said the prolonged WA border closure had delayed manufactur­ing by many months.

“In addition, distributi­on channels for our products are being reframed post-COVID-19, particular­ly due to the demise of the lucrative tourism market,” she said.

“This requires a rethink of product categories which in turn affects production numbers due to knitting times.”

Ms Webster said AWN was keen to connect its DNA wool growing clients to a paddock-to-retail platform.

“Merino & Co products require particular specificat­ions of wool, with clients who meet these requiremen­ts eligible to become part of the DNA program.”

Ms Webster said Merino & Co products would be sold to wholesaler­s, both domestic and internatio­nal.

“This includes the Williams Wool Shed, which was the home of our first DNA program in WA,” she said.

“Merino & Co has 300 outlets across Australia.”

AWN WA wool manager Greg Tilbrook said the connection to Merino & Co brands through the DNA program was what clients were looking for.

 ?? Picture: Iain Gillespie ?? Australian Wool Network wool manager Greg Tilbrook at the wool broker’s Bibra Lake warehouse.
Picture: Iain Gillespie Australian Wool Network wool manager Greg Tilbrook at the wool broker’s Bibra Lake warehouse.

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