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Just Shorn brand takes different approach to past ventures

Monday 27 June 2011, 8:42AM

By infonews.co.nz

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Just Shorn is the brand the Primary Wool Co-Operative want American carpet buyers to remember in their new initiative with Elders to sell high quality, sustainable wool carpets in the US.

The NZ Wool feature exhibit show-cased premium wool products at Field Days 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKC2xBvJnfA

The co-op’s emphasis has always been to push wool from the production end and with this new era of branding they have done it the other way around and are push wool direct to the consumer.

Bay de Lautour, Chairman of the Primary Wool Co-Operative says NZ Wool has the largest flooring conglomerate in American and working in partnership with them to sell wool carpets under the brand “Just Shorn”.

“Wool has doubled its price in roughly nine months”, he says and “all of the stars have suddenly risen,” to bring wool back to the lime light.

A lack of production and increased consumption have pushed prices up and on top of that developing new branding avenues is expected to help increase consumption further.

Bay says increased demand will “hopefully keep that higher wool price there and there is no reason why it won’t keep rising.”

One of the main issues with pushing wool to the manufacturers is “New Zealand’s wool is the best wool in the world and manufacturers mix it with poorer wools around the world to cheapen the price.”

He says Agresearch have developed a tracer wire to put in the carpet so buyers can ensure it is the genuine product.

Field Days was a great place to gain exposure for the new brand and to promote NZ Wool because it is the biggest Ag show in the southern hemisphere, he says.

It was an opportunity to influence the consumer and ensure every sector of the community saw the product, including politicians who can help lift the profile of wool.

Initially some farmers had scepticism about the new brand he says, but, now people can see the way the brand can pull people through they are seeing the benefits.

Bay says partners have other interests outside of carpet so there is a future in other ways to use wool and the technology to ensure authenticity.

The brand aims to differentiate products in the stores using the “Just Shorn” wool tag which resonates with the consumer, he says, Helping people in the stores see the difference’s in the products.

The consumer sees the Sheep tag and visit the websites to see more information and get a full brand experience.

Americans have become green in their buying and the “Just Shorn” brand aims to fit with sustainable buying practices Bay said.

The industry has been going through a really tough time and with conversions the industry has shrunk in the last few years and bay says every increment in wool all goes to the bottom line and reflects much more in farmers incomes than in other agriculture.

Many marginal dairy country has been converted to sheep recently and he expects to see more dairy to sheep conversions in the future as has occurred in past cycles in the Dairy and Sheep industries and as farmers try to get the best from their land.

He says If we can increase sheep numbers manufacturing of wool products will increase along with the following economic effects.

“Wool will never be as big as dairy ... but we have gone from $1.6 billion income from wool, 20 years ago, to 600 million in more recent years and this new growth will bring sheep back above wine and become a significant part of the economy again.

Bay said he thinks farmers should focus on wool genetics again and look at where breeding and focus on wool genetics to lift the industries wool production per head from 3.5kg, currently, to 6.5kg to make a significant difference to the total wool produced benefit to the farmer.

While wool prices have increased due to the reduction in sheep numbers, green and sustainability issues we have seen a rise in consumption too Bay says.

Along with that world wool stocks have run down because of the recession and stocks are possibly the lowest ever and Bay says all these things are adding to the rising prices.

Just Shorn has started with the US market as it is the most affluent world market, but will grow to other markets in the future he says.

As the wool is an exclusive consumer brand it can’t be undercut as with other brands and Bay says this will ensure its premium value.

This also means the margins are passed onto the retailer they are more focused on selling the product than generic brands

Facts:

  • Primary Wool Cooperative's Chairman Bay de Lautour says that people around the world have forgotten about the benefits of wool. "It doesn't burn easily, and a wool carpet will char, and the charring will brush off. In contrast, synthetic carpets burn and melt."
  • For the first time in New Zealand, one of Elders Primary Wool's Just ShornTM rugs (for sale exclusively in USA via International Design Guild stores) will be on display. These rugs are hand knotted by Nepalese craftsmen, and were displayed on Wool Equities' stand within the feature. They are made from Romney New Zealand wool under the Just Shorn brand, designed especially for the US market.
  • Elders Primary Wool displayed its Just ShornTM brand, a new carpet brand being marketed through upmarket International Design Guild stores across the USA. The Just Shorn brand is a retail brand, developed to make an emotional connection with high end customers - when they visit the store or the website. www.justshorn.com. When a customer walks into an International Design Guild store in the USA, he or she will see images of New Zealand farms and farmers - real people, on real farms. "This is tremendously exciting for the American customer," says Stu Chapman, Chairman of Elders Primary Wool. "Our farmers have become 'stars' in US retail."