Addressing a meeting of the English press at the NSA North Sheep event in Harrogate, Mr Hartley explains, "As a result of a competitive market in the early part of the year BWMB has been able to sell the entire 2012 clip ahead of schedule and also clear a 5m kg carry over from the previous season. The market was so strong that we have had to cancel the final auction of the season as we had insufficient wool to sell".
After an extremely turbulent period of trading in mid-late 2012 when both prices and clearance rates fell sharply, producer payments for this year will be lower than last year but Mr Hartley says the recent surge in demand is welcome news for wool producers.
"It is no secret that the market wasn't in very good shape last summer and autumn. But thanks to BWMB's strong cash flow position we were able to hold wool back when trade was tough and as a result stimulate demand for the benefit of BWMB supplying farmers."
Last summer's dip in trade was a direct result of slowing demand from China, a major trading area for British wool, and reduced sales in to the carpet sector which has been hard hit in the economic downturn of recent years, he says.
"Carpets are generally a significant purchase for most households; as such they are replaced relatively infrequently. The economic uncertainty in much of the world has resulted in much lower carpet sales which have fed back through to wool sales."
Looking ahead to the coming season, BWMB Chairman and English Northern Board member, Malcolm Corbett says he is hopeful of the recent strong demand continuing. "There are no signs of demand slipping at the moment and there are signs the market in China is rising again.
"Economies around the world look to be improving and there are clear signs of an improvement in the USA economy which will be of major benefit to wool sales. And on top of this there is a growing trend towards wool and natural fibres from both the fashion and interior design sectors."
Mr Corbett says this increasing demand for wool products is in part down to the continued work of the Campaign for Wool (CfW) and reflects the significant work CfW has done across the globe to show the versatility of wool as a truly modern, sustainable fibre.
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