Wool supply chain continues to grow in Vietnam

18 August 2014

The Woolmark Company’s Out of Vietnam project continues to go from strength to strength, according to The Woolmark Company’s general manager for product development and commercialisation, Jimmy Jackson.

Merino wool apparel from Canifa on display in Vietnam
Merino wool apparel from Canifa on display in Vietnam.

The program, which was launched two years ago with the aim of developing a sustainable wool supply chain, now has a total of 53 Vietnamese partners, with 15 to 20 of these companies technically up-to-speed with manufacturing wool products and The Woolmark Company has been introducing these companies to potential customers.

“The Woolmark Company is continuing to teach these companies how to make good quality wool products, and has been sending over technicians to educate the Vietnamese manufacturers how to select good yarns as well teach the dyeing and finishing processes,” Mr Jackson said.

“In the past 12 months two delegations of Japanese and Korean buyers from retailers, brands and department stores have travelled to Vietnam to meet with the Vietnamese manufacturers, and since then sample orders have transpired. We also know of six foreign companies interested in visiting Vietnam to establish joint ventures.”

The transfer of technology in Vietnam has also led to The Woolmark Company identifying two acrylic yarn spinners and teaching them both to produce a wool-acrylic blend. After a number of successful trials these two spinners are looking to invest in equipment to produce 100 per cent wool yarns.

Since 1999, Viet Nam Wool Company (LenViet) has specialised in producing acrylic yarns, but after working alongside AWI’s technicians, the Vietnamese company is now working with wool.

“We now have a worsted spinning line with 3000 spindles, more than 80 flatbed knitting machines, one blanket weaving mill and one fur fabric mill,” explained Viet Nam Wool Company (LenViet) chairman and general director Mr Pham Van Tan.

“With the support from AWI through the Out of Vietnam project, we have confidence we will make a mark in the market and supply quality products containing wool.”

Vietnamese apparel manufacturer and retailer Canifa, which has about 30 stores in north Vietnam, produced a range of wool sweaters last winter and sold out of stock. The campaign was so successful that Canifa will this year continue to produce wool apparel and run the campaign, with in-store promotions set to educate consumers about the natural benefits of Australian Merino wool.

“Canfia produced 10,000 70 per cent extrafine Merino wool-blend sweaters to sell in stores across Vietnam during autumn/winter 2013, and the collection was warmly welcomed by Vietnamese consumers,” explains Canifa CEO Mrs Doan Thi Bich Ngoc. “Following the success of this campaign we are going to stock 100 per cent Merino wool sweaters in our stores.”

Mr Jackson said this is a significant step in the Out of Vietnam project.

“Initially we thought there was not a consumer market for Merino wool in Vietnam. However, the success of Canifa’s campaign has proved that the market extends far beyond the trade sector and allows us to introduce apparel made from Australian Merino wool to Vietnamese consumers.”

In March this year, 20 textile manufacturers from Vietnam visited Australia to see first-hand how wool is grown, tested and graded, giving the manufacturers a holistic view on the wool supply chain. This November, another Vietnamese delegation will visit Australia at their own expense to learn more about wool.

“The first visit mostly involved company owners,” Mr Jackson said. “This visit, however, will involve key staff from the manufacturing companies to undertake real hands-on training. The group will spend three days at TAFE Western, Dubbo, learning about wool classing and will then visit AWI’s office to receive in-house training.”