Interview with Mr Craig Welsh

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

On 1 January 2001 Australian Wool Services (AWS) replaced the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation (AWRAP), which had been operating since 1993. Two AWS subsidiaries, AWI and The Woolmark Company, were also established. On 30 April 2002, AWI separated from AWS to become a fully independent public company limited by shares. Thus, restructured in 2001, Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI) is acting as a not-for-profit company owned by more than 29,000 Australian farmers. AWI invests in global R&D, innovations, and marketing through the entire wool pipeline from farm to fashion house – in the areas of wool production, textile product development, marketing and industry affairs. In October 2007, AWI acquired assets of Australian Wool Services. As a result of this historic merger, AWI became the owner of Woolmark: the world’s best known textile fibre brand. AWI looks to fund and commercialise global projects with a range of partners, from scientists through to retailers. AWI aims to get the projects in which it invests rapidly and widely adopted or commercialised. Appointed as CEO, Mr Craig Welsh is at the helm of managerial affairs at AWI positioning the Organisation and the Australian wool industry within the global apparel market place. The Company has advanced into the business of marketing its post-farm innovations to its global business partners and Mr Welsh, with his business and marketing experience, continues to drive this strategy to the benefit of Australian woolgrowers. Mr Welsh has an extensive executive experience in number of fields spanning wholesale, retail, research and development, supply chain, mergers and acquisitions etc. In 1996, Mr Welsh joined Puma Australia where he quickly rose through the ranks to become National Marketing Manager. In 1999 he was approached to be the CEO of Clarks Shoes and in 2001 was appointed as Group General Manager of the Colorado Group’s Dianna Ferrari, Jag and DKNY divisions. Prior to his appointment at AWI, he was most recently the General Manager of Marketing for Myers Stores Limited. Speaking in person with Face2Face team, Mr Craig Welsh discusses the consumer trends, market movements in global wool industry, and the activities of AWI promoting Australian Wool worldwide.

With what mission was the Australian Wool Innovation Limited founded and how is it accomplishing its set objectives?

Australian Wool Innovation in its present form was established just 14 months ago. It is the combination of the old Australian Wool Innovation which was a research and development company and The Woolmark Company which was the main marketing arm of the Australian wool industry. Now AWI does both marketing and research and development. About 60% of AWI’s expenditure goes on marketing and the other 40% is spent on R & D.

What was the rationale behind acquiring famous Wool mark?

The Woolmark is one of the most recognisable Brands in the world. Unfortunately, the Woolmark Company ran short of the funds to adequately market the Brand. By acquiring the Woolmark, AWI gained the Woolmark worldwide office network and is able to invest the sort of money that the logo demands to help grow demand for Australian Merino wool.

AWI is in the process of rolling out a global marketing strategy which will invest $120 million over the next three years. This is not something the Woolmark Company could have done. I see it as a win-win. The Woolmark Brand gets reinvigorated and AWI is able to leverage a worldwide network of offices to run its key account management business model.

Which all are the categories that Australian wool industry offers and their application sectors? What is your say on key Consumers trends?

The Australian wool industry supplies about 85% of the world’s apparel wool. As a result AWI’s marketing is heavily weighted towards the fine apparel sector.

AWI recognises that identifying and understanding key consumer trends is important to the future of Australian Merino wool, as it enables us to understand factors influencing purchase decisions, and proactively work toward the success of the company and our business partners.

Consumers are continually seeking better quality products, services and experiences across the board, therefore we believe sharing of this valuable information with our business partners is crucial in ensuring that, together, we continue to deliver premium Merino wool products to consumers across the globe.

You can click on the link provided to get in depth information on key consumer trends.

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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