AWI chairperson signals new era

27 Nov '18
3 min read

Newly appointed Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chairperson Colette Garnsey (OAM) has signalled the start of a new era for the wool industry, stating that it was time for change and the company was committed to greater engagement with Australian woolgrowers. AWI is a not-for-profit company that works for interests of Australian woolgrowers.

"Our priority is to be a company that is engaged with all of its stakeholders - woolgrowers and shareholders, of course, but also the government, farmers' groups, the media, our supporters and, yes, those who hold a more critical view of our performance," Garnsey said at the Annual General Meeting.

"All have a stake in the future of the company, all want the very best for the wool industry - and all deserve a say and to be heard," she said.

Garnsey said one of AWI's highest priorities is responding to, and actioning, the 82 recommendations from the Review of Performance commissioned by the Federal Government. "We are already 33 per cent of the way through the implementation process," she said.

"For example, since the Review, we have introduced a board skills matrix in the 2018 Annual Report that will help ensure we have the right mix of skills and experience on our board. And we have appointed a general manager of operations - a new role that will allow our CEO to focus on more strategic activities,” she said.

"Of the 82 recommendations in the Report, there are 75 which we have accepted and actioned. Of the remaining ones, there are two that are the subject of continued negotiations with the Department. There are also five we expect to put to shareholders at a general meeting in mid-March after a period of consultation."

Turning to the results of WoolPoll 2018, Garnsey said AWI was encouraged and humbled that the vast majority of woolgrowers saw the value in AWI's work and were prepared to contribute towards the company's research and development and marketing efforts on their behalf. "We are determined to maintain the momentum in our international marketing efforts and in our investments in research and development.”

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough pointed to the record highs hit by wool prices in the recent months. "I am delighted that in 2017-18 growers were able to reap the benefits of an increase in the average EMI of 23 per cent from the previous year," McCullough said.

"Investment in research and development, and extension by AWI in its Sheep Production and Woolgrower Services portfolios, increased by 27 per cent last year, delivering a range of outputs to help woolgrowers improve their on-farm productivity and profitability. This includes ongoing investment in Lifetime Ewe Management training, which resulted in more than 4,300 growers undertaking the hands-on course,” McCullough said.

"In the off-farm research and development area, we have added to the growing number of research findings supporting the health and wellbeing benefits of wool products. And we are working with leading brands such as adidas and Max Mara in new product developments,” he said and added "Our Marketing portfolio has continued to partner with premium brands and strategically invest in targeted campaigns - through both digital and traditional channels - to help create demand for Australian wool amongst consumers in key markets globally.

"The sports, outdoor and athleisure markets are especially exciting markets that are helping drive up demand for Merino wool. We have been increasing collaboration with leading manufacturers and brands in these sectors to promote the premium natural benefits of wool as a performance fibre," McCullough said. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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