Australian Wool Network adds value

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantThe West Australian
Australian WoolNetwork managing director John Colley.
Camera IconAustralian WoolNetwork managing director John Colley. Credit: Bob Garnant

With 36 years of wool industry experience, John Colley now runs both Australia’s biggest independent wool brokerage ($500 million turnover) and the country’s biggest natural fibre knitwear manufacturer.

Mr Colley, who is Australian WoolNetwork managing director, spoke at the Stud Merino Breeders Association of WA annual meeting in Cottesloe last week.

Formed in 1999, AWN is now defined by an alliance between growers and processors with the aim of delivering long-term sustainable contracts.

In 2011, Australian Pastoral Investments purchased 72 per cent of AWN and a long-term formal partnership with the management of Dyson Jones (WA) began.

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AWN purchased Hysport manufacturing in 2014 and began marketing the wool-blended garment brand MerinoSnug.

By 2015, AWN expanded operation investing in highly evolved technology, increasing its garment range and wool usage.

“Growers involved in AWN’s Direct Network Advantage program now receive $1.10 clean above the market price of the day,” Mr Colley said. “We pay genuine market premiums for suitable wool with complete transparency.”

Mr Colley said the fully integrated marketing company’s first garments, MerinoSnug (Merino wool and possum luxury knitwear), appeared in retail stories in March 2016 with DNA swing tags.

The tags can be read by mobile phones and instantly a video can be viewed, showing a story about the woolgrowers who produced the garment’s fibre.

“In 2017, AWN has 13 live DNA programs running and commitments to another four this year,” Mr Colley said. “Garments are now in every airport across Australian and 292 retail outlets. Feedback through social media has been extremely positive.”

AWN last year purchased the Hedrena brand, giving it access to seven retail shops and online sales.

“Hedrena’s focus is on different yarn (worsted 17 and 19 micron),” Mr Colley said.

“This label produces ‘next to skin’ high-quality garments. Hedrena and MerinoSnug will both be exported to the UK, France and the US by December 2017.

“AWN controls its own destiny by reinvesting in the manufacturer and retailing of pure wool and wool blended garments. We have a turnover of $40 million in the garment business, which requires 8000 bales of wool annually.”

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