NZ company designs for Starbucks

18:49, Oct 11 2010
NZ company designs for Starbucks
TIME FOR COFFEE? New Zealand company The Formary, is to reupholster 8000 Starbucks stores located outside of the United States. Inset is a prototype Starbucks seat using the new fabric.

A Wellington company's innovative fabric made from wool and recycled coffee sacks is to be introduced at 8000 Starbucks stores worldwide.

The new material – WoJo, made with 70 per cent New Zealand wool woven with jute from recycled coffee sacks – was to be unveiled in London about 1am today, New Zealand time.

WoJo was developed by Wellington company The Formary. Director Bernadette Casey said they had signed a deal with Starbucks to reupholster most of its stores outside the United States – about 8000 – within five years.

The Formary
CHAIR-WOMEN: Sally Shanks, left, and Bernadette Casey, of Wellington company The Formary, are to reupholster 8000 Starbucks stores located outside of the United States with their new WoJo fabric.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Bruce Wills said it was "exactly the shot in the arm" New Zealand's ailing wool industry needed. "I can only describe this as exciting. We have been looking for new uses for wool for quite some time."

About 18 months ago many farmers found that it cost more to take wool off a sheep's back than they could sell the end result for.

In the 12 months to August, wool exports were worth $564 million to the economy, Statistics NZ figures show.

Advertisement

Wools of New Zealand had an exclusive deal to provide the wool for WoJo. Ms Casey came up with the idea to blend wool with jute after discovering, about 18 months ago, that more than 90 per cent of the textiles that went to waste could be recycled.

In 2008, she took the idea to Starbucks, which was trying to find an environmentally friendly way to use its jute coffee sacks.

Trade and Enterprise NZ partnered her with Wools of NZ, a subsidiary of Wool Partners International, to develop the product.

Though WoJo was to use New Zealand wool, the fabric would be woven in Europe. It used Laneve, environmentally friendly, ethically produced "strong wool".

Other major firms had also expressed interest in the fabric.

The Dominion Post