Factory rallies on back of possum belt
A Mahe Drysdale-backed possum fur belt, which is claimed to alleviate back pain, has helped cure a Marton knitting factory's financial pain.
The Bary Knitting Mills factory announced it would be producing a Natures Support product, which was claimed to ease back pain.
Managing director Campbell Bary said the factory would now be able to remain open, despite earlier plans to close the business.
He said China's increasing textile industry dominance had made it difficult for his factory to compete.
"While we used to produce about 130,000 woollen jerseys annually for the local and international market more than a decade ago, we now are currently down to producing just 3000."
The product, which is a belt made from possum fur, was believed to help relax muscles and promote blood supply, he said.
Developed by Natures Support, the belt retailed for $210.
Mahe Drysdale was the company's ambassador and would receive royalties on sales of the product.
He was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 2010, and used the product daily. Drysdale said a retired Whanganui farmer had suggested he try the product to relieve his back pains.
"I wanted it to be comfortable and not noticeable so I could wear it underneath my shirt when I'm rowing.
"Now, it's a fundamental part of my day."
Arthritis New Zealand chief executive Sandra Kirby said the belt was likely to make some people feel better.
"There's something to it, in the same way as there's something to heat packs and wheat bags.
"It's an expensive wheat bag that you can wear all the time."
She said people were prepared to pay for something which promised help, but consumers would need to weigh up the cost.
"I think if people can afford that amount of money then it may give them some benefit."