Japanese wool buyers go to source

JACQUIE WEBBY
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013
wool japan
JOHN BISSET
WOOLY NICE: A delegation from Japan visited Canterbury Woolscourers. Pictured are Fumihide Satomura of Mojirushi and General Manager of Canterbury Woolscourers Tony Cunningham.

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Representatives of a giant Japanese retailer and buyer of New Zealand fine wool were in Timaru yesterday for what was described as a visit of significance.

The visitors saw for themselves how merino wool sourced from South Island stations could be traced from grower to retailer in spite of being scoured, blended and containerised at Canterbury Woolscourers in Timaru and then sent to Japan.

The wool is destined for products sold by Japanese retail giant MUJI, which has more than 600 retail stores in more than 25 countries.

The visitors, Tetsuya Motohiro, president of Motohiro and Co Ltd, Osaka, and Fumihide Satomura, of Ryohin Keikaku, Tokyo, were hosted by their New Zealand agents, Fuhrmann (New Zealand) Ltd and Schneider, and their visit to Canterbury Woolscourers was designed to follow the process of traceability and sustainability.

Canterbury Woolscourers chief executive Nigel Hales said it was an honour to host the MUJI representatives.

"This is their first visit to us and we are treating it with significance," he said.

"They will see the process the wool goes through before it reaches Japan to be manufactured into a range of woollen garments."

The wool, which is owned by MUJI, was sourced from four South Island stations: Castle Hill, Bendigo, Stonehenge and Shirlmar.

At the Washdyke site, the visitors saw the various steps in the process of opening the bale of greasy wool, which is then sorted, blended, pre-scoured, washed, rinsed, dried and finally baled up ready for shipment to Japan.

According to Canterbury Woolscourers general manager Tony Cunningham, the identification of the wool carries through each stage and the final product is labelled with traceable information, including where the wool came from.

"Japan is a big user of clothing-type wool, including merino, which is used in various ways including suits, uniforms, school uniforms and futons," Mr Cunningham said.

"They are interested in where their wool comes from and how it is processed and at Canterbury Woolscourers, we can show them the supply chain."

MUJI sells a variety of goods, including clothing made from New Zealand wool, homewares, cosmetics and electronics, and has recently opened its first store in Australia.

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- The Timaru Herald

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