7 Aug 2012

Japanese wool deal expected to lead to bigger things

7:00 am on 7 August 2012

A wool trader who has established a direct supply line between New Zealand merino wool growers and Japan's leading suit manufacturer expects it to lead to much bigger opportunities.

Earlier this year, Craig Smith of H Dawson organised the first trial shipment of 15-micron wool from Closeburn Station in Otago to the Konaka company in Japan for a new range of coats.

Now a second deal has been signed to supply 70 tonnes of 18.5-micron merino wool to Konaka for suits.

The wool will come from from the Big Ben and Mt Arrowsmith stations in Canterbury.

Mr Smith says the two shipments are just the start of what will become a major deal for New Zealand. He says in terms of the Konaka deal the company has already indicated it also wants some 20.5-micron wool, and Konaka owns restaurants so meat is another possible opportunity.

Mr Smith says wool is also going into carpets and futons in Japan - a Japanese team is in New Zealand gathering promotional material for the launch of the new suit and coat lines next month.

The owner of Big Ben and Mt Arrowsmith stations, Philip Wareing, says the deal with Konaka will take the whole of his clip at a price about 25% above what the market is currently paying.

He says he'll start harvesting the wool straight away, with pre-lamb shearing at Big Ben, "and that will be all the ewes followed by the hoggets - and then in a month's time we'll start blade shearing at Mt Arrowsmith and that will be followed a month later by the hoggets there. We should all be cleaned up by mid-September."

Mr Wareing says he understands that if everything goes satisfactorily, next year will be covered as well.