THE INTERNATIONAL WOOL SECRETARIAT, WOOL BUREAU WILL BE WOOLMARK CO.
Byline: Stuart Chirls
NEW YORK — What’s in a name? If you’re in the wool fiber business, it will hopefully mean increased market share and brand exposure.
That’s part of the thinking behind the decision of the former International Wool Secretariat and its Americas office, The Wool Bureau, to rename itself The Woolmark Co., effective July 1.
“The new name is just one indication of the way we have become a commercially focused organization,” said Wilbur (Pete) Peter, executive director of the Americas for The Woolmark Co., at its offices here.
“We feel this reflects the growing importance of the Woolmark and helps to maximize its commercial leverage around the world,” he said.
Recent consumer research sponsored by The Woolmark Co. in nine major retail markets worldwide found that 75 percent of consumers recognized the Woolmark, used to identify 100 percent pure new wool apparel at retail.
But Peter pointed out that among textile and apparel companies, the wool picture had been less clear.
“There had been a lot of confusion in the market between The Wool Bureau and the IWS,” he said. “We think this move will result in less confusion, especially where advertising and marketing are concerned. There will also be an efficiency in the way we do things.”
The Woolmark Co. will spotlight its new name and accompanying logo with a print advertising campaign slated to break in consumer publications in September.
“Consumer recognition has been a key to the increase in wool apparel sales in the American market,” said Peter. “The brand power of the Woolmark has also continued to increase.”
The Woolmark is the centerpiece of The Woolmark Co.’s licensing program, which now boasts 4,000 licensees around the globe. As part of a two-tier fee program that began in January 1995, small companies pay $2,000 to put the Woolmark or Wool Blend Mark on apparel, while large companies pay $5,000. The program will generate $7.5 million in 1998.
Licensing services also include Woolmark’s global sourcing information, technical advisory, marketing and, in the U.S., fabric testing through Woolmark’s service center in Rock Hill, S.C.
The Americas operation is responsible for promotion and marketing of wool to spinners, weavers, apparel makers, retailers and consumers in the U.S., Canada, and Central and Latin America.
Founded in 1937, The Woolmark Co. has offices in more than 20 countries, and representation in 60, with global headquarters in Melbourne, Australia.
It is funded through a 4 percent tax paid primarily by Australian growers on every bale of wool sold.
The growers recently voted to renew the tax despite the price of wool having hit a four-year low in early June.