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AWI hails Russian resurgent interest in Aussie wool
Dec '13
For the first time in two decades Russian textile interests have travelled directly to the source of the finest wool in the world.

Representatives from woollen mills, scourers, weavers and fibre experts have travelled at their own expense to wool growing properties in NSW and Victoria. Firstly to the south west slopes and tablelands of NSW to Angus and Allan Coles' property, Glencoe, Boroowa before visiting the property of AWI Chairman Wal Merriman at Boroowa.

The entourage then travelled to Victoria and met with Wool Producers Australia president Geoff Fisken on his wool property at Lal Lal near Ballarat before meeting wool exporters and brokers in Melbourne.

The return of Russian interests is significant given the large potential the former Russian states have for processing and consuming the natural fibre.

In 2011 AWI Chairman Wal Merriman and General Manager Product Development and Commercialisation Jimmy Jackson travelled to Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine and met with current and former woollen mills and textile experts.

From this initial trip, more than one million kilograms of greasy Australian wool was traded last year after zero the year before. Relationships with three topmakers and dozens of Russian manufacturers, designers, retailers and brands have now been established.

"We think this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the start of a resurgence of the wool industry in Russia both in wool processing and consumption. It has the three trigger points of cold climate, increasing wealth and a large population. They already wear wool, they know the product," AWI Chairman Wal Merriman added.

In 1991 the USSR bought up to 30 pc of the national wool clip and with the fall of the USSR the trade all but stopped. In recent years mills have been sourcing locally produced wool as well as broader wool from Argentina but having seen the superior Australian product, woollen interests are keen to source fine Australian wool once again.

Konstantin Konevego, CEO of Russia's iconic manufacturer and brand, Pavolove Posad said, "I had heard from AWI that Australia produced the finest wool in the world but I had to come and see it for myself and as they say in Russia: Seeing is believing".

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