Australian Wool Network has announced an expansion of its manufacturing and retail arm Merino & Co after signing on a new joint venture with Australian-owned company AC Link.
AWN acquired the Australian-based woollen knitwear manufacturing operation and the MerinoSnug brand in 2014 as part of its vision of connecting its wool growers with processors and consumers.
This vertical integration enabled AWN to offer its wool growing clients a direct connection from their wool through to an Australian-made final product, through its exclusive Direct Network Advantage (DNA) program.
The retail brand Merino & Co was launched in 2017, which provided an e-commerce platform selling premium Australian wool and wool blend products across Australian and internationally.
AC Link, an established woollen manufacturing business and the world's largest scarf manufacturer, retail in Australia but most of their sales are made across Asia, in particular in China.
With manufacturing operations based in Perth, WA, they were keen to extend their Australian-made story further down the supply chain, to connect their retail customers back to the Australian wool growers whose wool contributed to the making of their garments.
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AWN managing director John Colley said the joint venture between AWN and AC Link, which would continue to be known as Merino & Co, provided a unique opportunity for the two businesses to provide high quality Australian-made wool products with traceability to discerning customers across the globe.
"Both AWN and AC Link share a vision of being able to connect wool consumers from across the globe with the sheep, farms and growers who produced the wool in their garments," Mr Colley said.
"It will provide AWN and its clients with direct access to international markets, including the lucrative Asian market, where the demand for quality Australian-made products with traceability is on the rise."
He said the connection into the Asian market would further build on AWN's DNA story, providing greater access for their clients' wool to consumers in international markets.
"This expansion is incredibly exciting, particularly given the current global retail climate; there would not be many clothing retail businesses investing in expanding their operations at this time as significantly as we are," he said.
As part of the expansion, Merino & Co's manufacturing operations will relocate to AC Link's factory in Perth.
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