Working to bring wool to a new world

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The 1960s and 1970s was a strong era for wool, H Dawson Wool director Wayne Robertson, of Christchurch, says.
‘ At H Dawson Wool, we are more
than just a
traditional wool
business ‘
Woollen blankets, socks, Swanndris, bush shirts and jerseys were the preferred consumer choice and the sector was strong and far-reaching.
‘‘At some stage however changes in ideals, trends and attitudes were allowed and meant that over time a disconnection from wool occurred — that is up until recently,’’ Mr Robertson said.
The vision of H Dawson’s global chief executive and owner Jo Dawson was to challenge the outdated way the world saw wool.
Mr Dawson said the company needed to identify and deliver to the modern consumer wool products that enhanced and embodied the natural, sustainable and health-giving qualities of locally grown wool.
‘‘This focus now permeates through our business today and for us is the most significant and overriding challenge that the global wool industry faces today,’’ he said.
When it came to the company reconnecting consumer sentiment back to wool, H Dawson Wool knew it was a long, challenging road but it was a direction the business had totally committed to.
There was no ‘‘immediate silver bullet’’ to a sustainable better price but the company believed there was a line of fire in the right direction, Mr Robertson said.
This direction was not new and included: – Working together with likeminded people worldwide (including matching farmers to retailers); – Using innovation to identify uses for wool and ways and forms of presenting to the market rather than a price-taken commodity offer; – Loyal commitment to supporting wool whether it is the Global Campaign for Wool or talking ‘‘marketing’’ to friends or neighbours — basically anyone who will listen. – Being aware of the global consumer drive towards more responsible and sustainable products (including traceability) and leading the need for real and practical solutions from within; – Using technology to improve the industry; – Attracting younger people to the industry.
H Dawson Wool’s global commitment to this course has seen investment into Axminster Carpets (UK) and the expansion of its online retail presence ‘‘The Woolroom’’ (which sells woollen bedding and clothing over the internet) into four wool retail shops in the UK.
Implicit in this direction is the farmer.
More than 700 farmers in the South Island supply wool to H Dawson Wool (NZ) from small lifestyle blocks through to big corporate farms — and including crossbreds through to half-breds and merino.
‘‘We take pride in our strong links todedicated and loyal farmers through our Farm Direct procurement arm and the direct access it allows to the best woolgrowing regions in the South Island.’’
The company was also proud of the personal relationships it had with many of the farmers, with some spanning three generations.
‘‘At H Dawson Wool, we are more than just a traditional wool business.’’ – For more information contact Mr Robertson on (03) 366-6917 or 021 385-277.