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When is a wool broker not a wool broker?
Wool broking started in Australia in the 1840s as the emerging wool industry developed a need to access the London wool market to sell the output.

The service has evolved in time and included financing the clip against the anticipated return, classing, scouring, baling, warehousing and shipping.

In time Australia developed its own auction system but in an overall sense the services of the wool broker remains the same today.

However, in 1999 three highly experienced wool industry executives with 'their own skin in the game' through their own sheep properties had a vision to change the status quo by forming the Australia Wool Network with the aim of bringing wool growers and processors closer together.

It sounds simple and the first steps were to work more closely with the existing processors which has worked well and is the approach they still use today.

But they wanted to go further and link the woolgrower and their wool to the garment and this they achieved last year when they purchased Hysport, a Melbourne knitwear manufacturer.

In turn this has led to the establishment of the 'direct network advantage' or DNA wool supply program and Kangaroo Island Wool is the first group to join the scheme and have their own swing tag.
Later this year garments produced with wool from Kangaroo Island will be available at 230 retail outlets around Australia including airports, which avoids seasonality by giving access to international travellers and plans are in place to distribute the products through major airports and retailers throughout the world.

An important marketing device for consumers will be a QR tag (Quick Response Code) on each garment that can be scanned by a smart phone to show a video of how Kangaroo Island wool is produced. This innovation is expected to have strong appeal to international consumers, particularly those from Asia.

One of the products to be available under this scheme is the luxury knitwear label MerinoSnug, one of Hysport's premier clothing brands which is made from Australian merino wool and New Zealand possum fur.

Manufactured wholly in Australia using state of the art 'whole of garment' knitting machines, the MerinoSnug knitwear range is in high demand particularly from the tourism and travel retail sector. The finished garment is very warm to wear and light in weight.

Wool growers around Australia are now being invited to join AWN and submit wool that meets a range of specifications suitable for the DNA program and the end product.
The DNA program is also aimed at satisfying the desire of many woolgrowers to know where the wool they produce is going, which is in line with the 'paddock to the plate' sentiment expressed by food producers.

As well as the relationship between the woolgrower and the consumer Australian Wool Network is offering a change in the way that wool is collected from the farm through the establishment of a direct buying division which now has branches in Deniliquin, Hamilton, Yarram, Mount Gambier, Edenhope, Horsham, Penola, Bordertown and Portland.

The AWN wool buying division was originally established to buy wool oddments such as bags, butts, light bales even daggy wool direct from the grower, but farmers have appreciated the service so much that AWN is now buying entire clips of up to 400 bales, which can be collected from the farm and sent to auction if that is preferred by the client.

The clients of the wool buying division range across all woolgrowers from hobby farmers to specialist fine merino growers including all sheep breeds and wool types, but what is consistent is that the service of classing on farm and collecting the wool is appreciated.

Australian Wool Network is a specialist in wool and today represents 5000 growers and handles 250,000 bales of wool per year.

But are they a wool broker in the traditional sense?

"No" says AWN Managing Director John Colley: "We prefer the term wool marketer rather than wool broker to describe our business.

"It is not generally realised but growers have considerable control over the wool they produce in terms of quality, length, strength and sheep breeding.

"For example, our wool specialists could recommend to the producer that it would be better to shear at seven months to meet a certain garment requirement, or change the feeding pattern to influence the strength of the fibre.

"As well as the opportunity of selling their wool direct to the mill and the price benefit this brings, we are finding that wool growers are also attracted to the concept that their wool is going into a particular garment, which gives them a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the end product of what they have produced.

"By controlling wool processing from bale to retail we are in charge of some of the associated costs, enabling us to potentially offer a better price for specific wool types," he said.

Wool growers wanting to find out more about the DNA wool supply program, or the services of Australian Wool Network should contact their local AWN Wool Specialist or visit

Released for Australian Wool Network by Dennis Rutzou Public Relations (
For further information please call Dennis Rutzou on 0411 510 888.

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