British Wool performs 'well' despite 'extremely challenging' year

Despite a backdrop of economic challenge, British Wool performed 'relatively well' in 2018
Despite a backdrop of economic challenge, British Wool performed 'relatively well' in 2018

British Wool performed 'relatively well' last year as the global cross-bred wool market proved 'extremely challenging' due to the unforeseen US-China trade war.

This, coupled with increasing uncertainty over Brexit also impacted UK consumer confidence, reducing demand for carpet wool types.

However, despite a backdrop of economic challenge, British Wool performed relatively well, maintaining average prices in line with last season’s.

Trevor Richards, Chairman at British Wool, said this is highlighted when benchmarking against the price of New Zealand cross-bred wool.

“Historically our wool has sold at a 20% discount, but our prices have been consistently higher during 2018,” he said.

Mr Richards believes this success is due in part to a more strategic approach at auctions and the launch of an agency buyer in July 2018, making it easier for new buyers to access the auction.

“This initiative is already starting to have a material impact on competition in the auction room, which should help support our prices moving forward,” he said.

The chairman added that the prices paid by British Wool are 'consistently higher' than those offered by direct from farm competition.

“The prices we offer have been consistently higher for a number of years, and early indications from 2019 indicate this gap will increase even further over the coming season. We’re working on many new initiatives to maximise the value of producers’ wool.”

Such initiatives include a new marketing strategy which gained traction during the past 12 months with the implementation of a new brand licensing scheme.

Another significant development is the opening of a new office in Shanghai, targeting the largest and fastest growing middle class consumer market in the world.

British Wool are looking for new product opportunities in China to help increase the value of producers’ wool.

Mr Richards said: “I am pleased to say that we have already received our first order for new products and anticipate good growth in this area over the coming 12 months.”