Interview with Mr Craig Welsh

Face2Face
Mr Craig Welsh
Mr Craig Welsh
CEO
Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI)
Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI)

Can you also provide us the figures of exports/sales?

The Australian wool clip is worth in the region of $2.5 – 3.0 billion annually, and generates retail sales of approximately $90 billion.

How do you find global wool industry performing in present times? Australia heads other countries in this market. Why?

The background in which we are working is one where retailers still have large amounts of stock from last season, where consumers are saving their pennies not spending them, and where some of our largest markets appear to be sliding towards recession.

But I’m excited about the possibilities for Australian Merino wool. In times like these, consumers look for value and quality. People tend to buy less but buy better. Purchases have to live up to their promises and have longevity. Merino wool ticks both these boxes. It’s affordable and it’s also of luxurious quality.

While we are getting commitments from manufacturers and retailers already, which is very heartening, our plan is to grow demand consistently for years to come. In the first year alone we have set the target to grow demand for Australian wool by an additional 20 million kilos. We have already generated 7 million kilos of new demand this financial year. The plan is to grow demand by an extra 20 million each year for the foreseeable future. It’s ambitious but possible. And our business to business marketing strategy is at the core of it. We provide the innovations and the marketing collateral and our business partners tailor them to their requirements.

Australia heads the world in apparel wool because of the huge Merino flock of about 80 million sheep. Australia is ideal for the cultivation of Merino sheep which provide fine micron fibre perfect for the manufacture of fine apparel.

Do the volatility in Cotton prices affects the wool industry anyways?

Merino wool is unique. There is no fibre which can compete with it. We have the view that wool is the finest apparel fibre in the world. It is natural, biodegradable and sustainable. It’s AWI’s task to grow demand for Australian wool and grow the price of that wool for Australia’s wool producers. We believe our marketing strategy will achieve those aims.

Nowadays, fibre producers are making a drift towards lucrative sector of Technical textiles. What are applications of wool in this sector and how is Australian wool industry poised for it?

Huge amounts of money have been invested by research companies to try to achieve what wool does naturally.

AWI is concentrating the vast majority of its efforts on conventional apparel. We strongly believe we have the finest natural fibre in the world. As such our Merino wool can be found in the finest clothing on the planet. We are happy to let inferior fibres battle out the technical textile sector.

Fibre2fashion also caters information for one of very precious community: the students who are future of this industry. Our student visitors would definitely like to know about the activities by AWI in their interests.

AWI spends a large amount of money on training and encouragement for students all along the supply chain. From shearer training, to scholarships, to mentoring young designers, to sponsorship of the Woolmark Prize – AWI believes our young people are the future of the industry and we do what we can to assist in their development.

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Published on: 01/12/2008

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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Director General
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