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Collaboration and cooperation key for British wool’s future

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Last week’s British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) annual conference in Leeds was told there are opportunities going forward for British wool but it was essential all parts of the wool industry collaborated and cooperated.


It was innovation in the form of collaboration which had driven a resurgence in one of the most iconic wool products, Harris Tweed, explained Mark Hogarth, creative director at Harris Tweed Hebrides. “We have seen a huge resurgence in Harris Tweed in recent years and this is largely due to a number of positive associations with leading fashion brands across the world.

“Capitalising on these relationships and collaborating with partners, such as Topman, which wouldn’t historically have been a natural fit for Harris Tweed will be key to maximising demand for woollen products going forward,” he explained.


“In wool we have a truly unique product which has a great future. It can be used at all levels in the fashion industry with great effect and can be used to create an immense variety of garments. We have to get the message out there more widely and promote wool as a modern fabric with a rich heritage,” added Mr Hogarth.


The cooperative theme was echoed by second speaker Paul Hughes Jnr of Standard Wool UK who said the BWMB structure was a good example of a strong co-operative model.

“BWMB fulfils a unique role in the wool industry, serving both producers and buyers.  From a producer’s perspective BWMB gives them strength and ensures they collectively carry selling power – staggering the flow of wool across the year BWMB is able to deliver wool to the market and manage a volatile wool market,” he explained.


“As a company we handle wool from a number of countries and without doubt the way BWMB manages the grading and sale of British wool is the best system for UK producers.”

Mr Hughes told delegates his company was committed to the British wool industry for the long-term. “As a buyer and supplier of greasy wool as well as a scouring in the UK, our customers are looking for quality wool every time they deal with us.

“When it comes to buying British wool we know our customers can be assured of its quality which gives them confidence their end product will meet the high standards modern consumers expect.”


BWMB chief executive Joe Farren, speaking at his first BWMB conference, said, “In British wool we have a truly high quality product which is both versatile and durable, having a wide range of uses and offering many unique benefits.


“Prices at our recent auctions have softened a little due to a drop in UK consumer confidence post-Brexit (impacting wool carpet sales) and a continued cooling of the Chinese economy with an accompanying swing in Chinese fashion away from our finer micron wool to merino types.  While we cannot directly influence global prices, we will be seeking to handle producers’ wool more cost effectively year after year to maximise their proceeds.”


Summing up BWMB chairman and Northern Irish sheep farmer Ian Buchanan said he had every confidence in the future of British wool and the BWMB.  “The BWMB continues to provide a unique service for all UK sheep farmers and will always endeavour to ensure support is directed at marketing campaigns which have the ability to maximise returns to all involved,” said Mr Buchanan.


Source: BWMB

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