Visit abroad shows demand strong for wool

27 Nov, 2009 01:00 AM
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David Webster
David Webster

AWI meetings with the British Retail Consortium and the US National Retail Federation in the past few weeks signalled a clear international demand for wool, according to AWI director David Webster.

Mr Webster, AWI chief executive officer Brenda McGahan, and staffers Stuart McCullough and Geoff Linden met with the two retail federations to discuss animal welfare issues and exchange views on the wool market.

As part of the meetings, Mr Webster visited Washington and New York to see how much wool was marketed by US retailers.

Mr Webster said he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of wool garments being sold at high fashion stores, particularly in New York.

"Our job is to keep it sustainable," Mr Webster said.

"You don't realise how important wool is to the fashion-savvy, and how much they want to wear wool in winter to keep them warm."

The US sells 13 per cent of the world's wool in up-market, high end fashion retailers.

Mr Webster said while it seemed as though the global financial crisis hadn't touched New York, there were very poor areas in and around Washington.

"There is a massive gap between rich and poor," Mr Webster said.

"While it doesn't look good in a lot of the US, New York looks like it hasn't had a bad day."

With the bust in the US and the boom in China, Mr Webster said the US retailers he spoke to touted Shanghai as the next New York.

"There's no doubt there is an increasing wealth band in Asia.

"High end fashion drives the prices woolgrowers receive."

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