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Beyond the Bale : March 2014
Anew Wool Development Centre (WDC) officially opened in October in Yantai, Shandong Provence, to develop innovative high value-added woven products made from Australian Merino wool. It has been co-founded by AWI and by one of China's leading wool textile enterprises: The Nanshan Group, in a bid to help drive the expansion of the Chinese woollen textile industry. The primary function of the WDC is to undergo product development in a more cost effective manner, focusing on woven fabrics. The WDC will also act as a significant training base to foster professional talent in the wool textile industry, working closely with the nearby university and students studying wool manufacturing. Nanshan Group President Mr Song Jianmin, Nanshan Group General Manager Mr Song Riyou, AWI CEO Stuart McCullough and AWI Global Product Development and Commercialisation Manager Jimmy Jackson attended the opening ceremony, along with China Wool Textile Association Chair Ms Peng Yanli. Nanshan Group General Manager Song Riyou said: "As one of the major partners for AWI in the Chinese market, Nanshan is intent on becoming a global organisation upholding the best practices in governance. Therefore, we co-founded the WDC which integrates key resources for the wool industry to the benefit of the operations and development of both parties. "We are honoured by this opportunity to work with AWI in the establishment of the WDC, and look forward to further promoting technology innovation and development of the wool industry." Mr Jackson added how AWI was glad to be partnering with the Nanshan Group to co-found the WDC. "It will be an important R&D and training base for AWI," Mr Jackson said. "With the support of research and development of the WDC, the natural benefits and properties of Merino wool will reach a wider audience and the WDC will deliver more innovative Merino wool products to consumers." AWI CEO Stuart McCullough and Nanshan Group President Mr Song Jianmin in front of two OPTIMTM machines at the Wool Development Centre. 19 OFF-FARM March 2014 BEYOND THE BALE technologies. "We are seeing an increase in blends with other fibres, which can add functionality like compression, or increase resistance and strength in apparel for intense sports such as rock climbing. We are also finding innovative ways to print on fabrics -- a trend which is ever more attractive in cycling apparel. "We met with our key target global brands across activities such as yoga and low-impact sports right through to intense sports such as mountaineering and rock climbing. Having Pete Veider from the Bergrettung Tirol mountain rescue service at our stand as an ambassador talking about his personal experiences with Merino wool was also a great endorsement for the fibre and he spoke with various representatives from local and international media." Australian snow and outdoor brand XTM knows all too well the natural benefits of Merino wool and produces a range of Woolmark-certified base-layers made from 100 per cent Australian Merino wool. The brand has also sponsored a number of athletes in the Australian Winter Olympics team, dressing them in Merino wool base-layers, whilst the entire team stepped out in Sochi in XTM Merino wool blend socks. For brands such as XTM, trade shows like ISPO are vital in not only showing their products to an international audience of buyers and retailers, but also act as a platform to promote the sports benefits of wool. "This is the second time that XTM has exhibited at ISPO and the change in perception of, and interest in wool, is exceptional," said XTM General Manager Paul Manders. "It was really pleasing to receive so many comments about the softness of the wool and many consumers cannot believe how luxurious it feels next to the skin. The interest in our product was even more enhanced as it was Australian Merino and carried the Woolmark logo -- which added to the credibility of the product. "For us, being Australian and all, it feels good to be part of this. In addition, it fits in very well with our launch of the new Merino collection and we are of course very proud of having equipped several Olympic ski athletes with their Merino garments." More information: www.woolmark.com/sports www.xtm.com.au FAST FACTS l A Wool Development Centre has opened in China to act as a training base to foster professional talent in the wool textile industry. l The centre has been co-founded by AWI and one of China's leading wool textile enterprises: The Nanshan Group. l The centre aims to further drive innovation and research to help create a wide variety of modern products for a growing market for Merino wool. New Wool Development Centre in China