High-value wool innovation company wins top export award

A Canterbury business helping to create high-value products from merino wool has won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.

Based in Christchurch, New Zealand Merino is an integrated sales, marketing and innovation company for merino wool, and the world's leading supplier of ethical wool through its accreditation brand, ZQ Merino. 

The company aims to help transform merino wool from a commodity into a high-value fibre, working with brands to create unique, design-led and R&D-based products that incorporate merino wool, and in turn helping growers to get better returns.

Its partnerships include local and global brands ranging from Icebreaker, Allbirds, Mons Royale, Rodd & Gunn and Untouched World to Hugo Boss, Fjallraven and Helly Hansen. 

 New Zealand Merino helped to develop a new wool composite technology surfboard.
New Zealand Merino helped to develop a new wool composite technology surfboard. Photo credit: Supplied

As well as apparel, they have also teamed up for novel products such as US boardmaker Firewire's Woolight composite surfboard.

Judges were impressed with how the company had worked to help shift the entire local merino industry from volume to value, investing in a design-led approach over multiple years.

It also noted the company had also helped many of their partner brands and suppliers to adopt design thinking approaches.

In accepting the award, New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge paid tribute to everyone involved in the company's success.

New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge.
New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge. Photo credit: Supplied

"These awards go to our team and board, the 500 high country farmers, strong wool farmers, Māori agribusinesses, and Pāmu farms who dare to be different. 

They are leaning into regenerative agriculture and embracing the notion of wellbeing, not just of people but also of the planet," he said.

"We'd also like to acknowledge our innovative brand partners who are taking our special fibre to the world and the Te Hono network who continue to lead the way for agribusiness in New Zealand." 

New Zealand Merino won the Excellence in Design award earlier in the night, before being chosen from all category winners to receive the Supreme Award.

The company's innovation centre, Studio ZQ
The company's innovation centre, Studio ZQ Photo credit: Supplied

They were also highly commended in the Excellence in Innovation and ANZ Best Large Business categories.

The winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges with extensive experience in growing businesses internationally.

Full list of winners in the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.

  • Supreme Award for International Business (chosen from the winners of all categories)

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited

  • He kai kei aku ringa for Māori Excellence in Export

Kono  (Whakatū / Nelson)

  • Inspiring Women Leaders:

Angie Judge, Dexibit (Auckland)

  • Best Emerging Business

Re-Leased (Hawke's Bay)

Highly commended: Method Recycling (Wellington), Organic Initiative (Dunedin)

  • Best Medium Business:

Doyle Sails New Zealand Limited (Auckland)

Highly commended: Natural Pet Food Group (Canterbury), Tuapeka Gold Print Limited (Dunedin)

  • ANZ Best Large Business:

Douglas Pharmaceuticals  (Auckland)

  • Excellence in Innovation:

Bluelab Corporation Limited  (Hawke's Bay)

Highly commended: Dexibit (Auckland), The New Zealand Merino Company (Canterbury)

  • Excellence in Design  

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited (Canterbury)

  • Inspiring Preference for New Zealand:

Kono (Whakatū - Nelson)

Highly commended: Ao Skincare (Auckland)

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