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Primary Wool Co-Operative (PWC) shareholders have placed their organisation on an extremely strong footing for the future, providing overwhelming support for two key resolutions at the co-operative’s 44th annual general meeting.
Farmer shareholders voted in favour of maintaining PWC’s 50% shareholding in CP Wool, as well as over 98% supporting a constitutional change enabling a capital raise to back CP Wool’s five year strategic plan at the meeting in Dannevirke on May 23.
Janette Osborne, incoming chair of PWC, said it was fantastic to see farmer shareholders emphatically supporting the future direction of their co-operative and the New Zealand wool industry as a whole.
“We’re thrilled to have established such a strong platform for the future of Primary Wool Co-operative. At a time when wool prices are presenting significant challenges to farmers, our shareholders have demonstrated their optimism about several industry initiatives, as well as supporting greater industry cohesion to achieve positive outcomes.”
Mrs Osborne has assumed leadership of the PWC board following 44 years of service by outgoing chair Bay de Lautour, whose enormous contribution to the co-operative was recognised at the meeting.
In a moving account of the evolution of PWC over his long career, Mr de Lautour recalled how the organisation had grown from 400 farmer shareholders each contributing $400, to New Zealand’s only farmer-owned wool co-operative with 1,409 shareholders – the most members of any New Zealand farmer-owned wool company.
Mr de Lautour remains on the PWC board as a director, along with Hamish de Lautour.
Retiring director Howie Gardner was also recognised for his significant contribution during 25 years of service to the boards of PWC and previously CRT Wool.
Mr Gardner, who was unable to attend the meeting, provided a letter of support to shareholders, who applauded his service to the co-operative and wished him well for retirement.
One of the biggest topics of discussion at the AGM was the high volume of wool on hold and the financial impact of that. However, the success of the work that has been done to achieve a significant reduction in losses from the previous year was also recognised at the meeting, with the outlook for the next year considerably improved.
While the cumulative average return on investment to PWC shareholders in the three years to 30 June 2018 was 38%, a period of consolidation for the next two years is expected. However shareholders should still receive subsidised woolpacks which provide a return of approximately 9%.
“We are proud to still be able to provide a positive return on investment even in these difficult times,” Mrs Osborne said.
The PWC board also aims to continue the tradition of strong South Island farmer representation on the board, with steps being taken to achieve this within the next few months.
Craig Carr, chair of CP Wool, said the company’s five year strategic plan covers several key areas of focus, including raising awareness among consumers globally of New Zealand wool as a valuable and versatile natural fibre. CP Wool is also investigating the “huge potential” of hemp through its subsidiary NZ Yarn.
“Our team has delivered some tremendous achievements over the past couple of years which have laid a solid path for the future. These include new international partnerships which are showcasing New Zealand wool on the global stage.”
CP Wool, the Carrfields group and the Carr family are very proud to be involved in a joint venture with PWC, which is an exceptionally strong farmer group, Mr Carr said.
“The 19.7 million kilograms that PWC shareholders transact through CP Wool each year is a credit to the leadership provided by both Bay and Howie over the years, and we’re looking forward to further developing our partnership with PWC as we embark on a very exciting future for natural fibres globally.”