The New Zealand Merino Company has inked an $8 million one-year deal to supply 600 tonnes of New Zealand fine and medium micron wool to US sock and apparel manufacturer SmartWool.
NZ Merino which markets the nationâ€™s wool to customers on behalf of suppliers aims to boost sheep grower returns from wool through supply agreements with companies such as New Zealand outdoor clothing brand Icebreaker and Danish slipper manufacturer Glerups. The SmartWool supply contract continues an 18-year partnership which has been worth $150 million to NZ Merino growers.
NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge said that the SmartWool contract is testament that a new way of doing business can work in their commodity-based primary sector. It brings producers closer to end-users and thatâ€™s important in making sure they supply a premium offering. It means NZM growers get the best possible return.
Colorado-based SmartWoolâ€™s parent company, VF Corp, counts The North Face, Timberland and Vans among its global brands. SmartWool started as a ski sock brand in 1994 and has since diversified into performance and lifestyle apparel, selling products in 40 countries.
SmartWoolâ€™s customers were increasingly interested in the companyâ€™s â€˜brand storyâ€™, particularly fibre that was accredited through NZ Merinoâ€™s ZQ programme which requires standards for animal welfare, environmental care and social sustainability, as well as the high quality of the wool. said SmartWool president Mark Satkiewicz.
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