End of era for wool at Newcastle

01 Feb, 2013 03:00 AM
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4
 

WOOLGROWERS in the State’s north will soon have to trek to Sydney if they want to see their wool sold, with the Newcastle Wool Centre set to close its doors on March 31.

The last wool sale will be held at Newcastle in the week starting February 25.

AWH chief executive Craig Finlay said the lease on the premises ended in March this year and a new owner planned to develop the site for his own business.

Mr Finlay said AWH (and its preceding companies) had sold at the centre for about 50 years.

The option of leasing elsewhere in Newcastle was considered, but he said with the already low volumes of wool still declining it wasn’t a feasible option.

Ten years ago the Newcastle Wool Centre sold more than 150,000 bales a year.

This had dropped to 110,000 bales in 2007 and this financial year would be lucky to reach 50,000.

This decline had already seen Newcastle cut back from as many as nine sales a year a decade ago to just four sales a year in recent years.

Mr Finlay said finer wools would be the most impacted because of Newcastle’s location to the New England.

This might mean more travelling for the vendors to see their wool sold, but it would mean less for the buyers, many of whom were based in Sydney.

He said the move wouldn’t affect the company’s wool stores, including its warehouse at Rutherford (which is also leased), so transport costs to storage for vendors wouldn’t be affected.

Mr Finlay said no staff would be lost, as the Newcastle Wool Centre sales were run by the staff at the Rutherford wool store and with only four sales a year, the wool selling side of the operation in the Hunter Valley was only a small and irregular part of their duties.

Nonetheless, superfine woolgrowers were still devastated to hear the news, according to Australian Superfine Woolgrowers Association (ASWGA) president Helen Cathles.

She said the Newcastle Wool Centre had attached to it a prestige that gave dowstream benefits to processors and retailers and formed part of the end product’s provenance.

“So now we need to work with the brokers to make sure the selling centre and selling days recreate that prestige, such as selling events that focus on superfine,” she said.

“We need something that showcases the wool for buyers to look

at and that showcases the wool when international buyers come to visit.”

She said ASWGA planned to work collaboratively with brokers to make sure this works.

“We are getting more competition these days from other countries so we really need to keep Australia at the forefront of prestige superfine.”

The Land
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

Maxx
1/02/2013 11:09:39 AM, on The Land

Well done AWH - long overdue. It will be a brilliant day for the Australian Wool Industry when we see one vibrant, fully utilised, cost effective National Selling Centre - charge on!
New England Wool
5/02/2013 8:24:39 AM, on The Land

I would not call this "a brilliant day". It is a damn shame! As a major buyer of wool from this centre, and a supporter of close communication with wool growers, I can only say it is a sad day. Our italian clients/shareholders are also devistated by this news. We can only hope that in some way we can preserve the involvement of our important suppliers in the wool selling process. We fully appreciate the economic circumstances surrounding this decision, but we still very disappointed. This was our most important buying centre, and we marketed these sale weeks as such. It is a sad end of an era.
William
5/02/2013 5:18:33 PM, on The Land

Sad really. I worked in the Hannell St stores in the late 70's, after transferring from the Pitt Son 7 Badgery store in Darby St where I started as a 15 year old in 1976. The end of an Era is quite right!
Nathan e
13/02/2013 3:40:02 PM, on The Land

is there anything good actually happening with wool at the moment.

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