AWN today announced an expansion of their manufacturing and retail arm, Merino & Co, after signing a Heads of Agreement on a new joint venture with the Australian-owned company, Australia China Link Pty Ltd, known as AC Link.
AWN, Australia’s largest independent wool broker, acquired the Australian-based woollen knitwear manufacturing operation and the MerinoSnug™ brand in 2014 as part of its vision of connecting its wool growers with processors and consumers. This vertical integration enabled AWN to offer its wool growing clients a direct connection from their wool through to an Australian-made final product, through its exclusive Direct Network Advantage (DNA) program. The retail brand Merino & Co was launched in 2018, providing a sophisticated e-commerce platform selling premium Australian wool and wool blend products across Australian and internationally.
AC Link, an established woollen manufacturing business and the world’s largest scarf manufacturer, retail in Australia but with most of their sales made across Asia, in particular China. With manufacturing operations based in Perth, Western Australia, they were keen to extend their Australian-made story further down the supply chain, to connect their retail customers with back to the Australian wool growers whose wool contributed to the making of their garments.
AWN Managing Director John Colley said that the joint venture between AWN and AC Link, which will continue to be known as Merino & Co, provided a unique opportunity for the two businesses to provide high-quality Australian-made wool products with traceability to discerning customers across the globe.
“Both AWN and AC Link share a vision of being able to connect wool consumers from across the globe with the sheep, farms and growers who produced the wool in their garments,” Mr Colley said.
“It will provide AWN and its clients with direct access to international markets, including the lucrative Asian market, where the demand for quality Australian made products with traceability is on the rise. This expansion for Merino & Co, the MerinoSnug brand and the DNA program on this scale would not have been possible without the connections of a partner such as AC Link. This connection into the Asia market will further build on our DNA story, providing greater access for our clients’ wool to consumers in international markets on a larger scale than ever before.
“This expansion is incredibly exciting, particularly given the current global retail climate; there would not be many clothing retail business’ investing in expanding their operations at this time as significantly as we are.”
As part of the expansion, Merino & Co’s manufacturing operations will relocate to AC Link’s factory in Perth, Western Australia in Quarter 3, ready to commence production in time for the Northern Hemisphere Winter.