A Canterbury business creating a high-value, top-dollar future for merino wool has won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.
Based in Christchurch, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited 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. 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 New Zealand Merino Company Limited had worked to help shift the entire local merino industry from volume to value, investing in a design-led approach over multiple years and also helping many of their partner brands and suppliers to adopt design thinking approaches.
The New Zealand Merino Company Limited won the Excellence in Design award earlier in the night, before being chosen from all category winners to receive the Supreme Award. They were also highly commended in the Excellence in Innovation and ANZ Best Large Business categories.
This marks the awards’ second year running with a Canterbury business taking top honours, following a win for geological software business Seequent in 2018.
The New Zealand Merino Company Limited were included in the awards process after winning a Westpac Champion Canterbury Award – one of six regional export award programmes that feed through to the New Zealand International Business Awards via a partnership with ExportNZ.
Thirty-nine of New Zealand’s top export companies and business leaders made it through to the final stage of the awards, a record number. This followed a nine-month application and judging process. They came from around New Zealand and represented an array of sectors demonstrating the nation’s business diversity and innovation.
The winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges with extensive experience in growing businesses internationally.
David Downs, convenor of judges for the awards, said: “With the high quality of entrants, every year one of the hardest tasks we have is selecting finalists, and it can be incredibly hard to pull one winner out from such a strong field.
“The results these businesses are getting with their international growth, and the stories we heard of how Kiwis are winning on the world stage, were fascinating and inspiring.”
The awards were presented at a black-tie dinner in Auckland on Thursday, 7 November.