27 JUL 2022

Elders announces world-first wool handling business

Elders is establishing a world-first, automated wool handling business, to be launched in 2023.

The business will complement Elders’ existing wool offering, providing a full end-to-end service that will improve efficiency and outcomes for clients.

The wool handling operation will be based around two centralised hubs (Melbourne and Perth) that will be supported by an extensive network of receival centres. Its existing three selling centres in Yennora, Brooklyn and Spearwood will remain in operation. The two hubs will offer industry-leading innovations and improve sustainability outcomes within the supply chain.

The first in the world, the Melbourne warehouse will move wool bales using Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs). The AGVs and supply chain optimisation will provide significant long-term operational and safety benefits for both Elders and its clients.

Elders is also developing its own industry-leading software to deliver a more efficient end-to-end selling process for its clients.

Elders will be investing $25 million in this long-term commitment to the industry.

Elders Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mark Allison says that the new business will revolutionise wool handling.

“Elders is committed to providing exceptional customer service and contributing to the future success of our growers and the wool industry. We are demonstrating this commitment by continual investment in supply chain optimisation, including the logistics, sampling, sales and storage of wool through automated warehouse operations,” Mr Allison says.

“Elders is an integral part of the fabric of regional communities and has played a key role in the Australian wool industry for 185 years – indeed Elders began wool handling and financing in the mid-1800’s.

“Elders recognises that the landscape of the Australian wool industry has changed dramatically in the last three decades and it is critical to adapt and change for Australian fibre to remain some of the best in the world.

“To this end, in making the largest single supply chain investment in the Australian wool industry this century, we stand with our customers to deliver the best sustainable wool supply globally.”

With environmental sustainability a key objective, Elders is aiming to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from its hubs through the use of solar power, LED lighting and energy efficient equipment.

The Melbourne greenfield facility is strategically placed one turn off the Western freeway at Ravenhall, Melbourne. This location creates the link from key regional growing areas to Australia’s largest concentration of buyers and access to the port through which over 75% of Australia’s wool on the east coast ships to global markets.

“This business is a result of Elders constantly looking at ways to improve outcomes for our clients, the environment, our shareholders and communities. We want to ensure we deliver the best results for the next generation of wool growers across Australia,” said Mr Allison.

“The long-term sustainability of the wool industry and improved outcomes for our clients is our key priority.”

Elders’ expert wool network has partnered with global companies to design and structure this new business and is consulting closely with industry, associations and buying partners to ensure the best customer service outcomes.

Elders currently provides a range of selling tools and options for wool growers, including auction, auction forward, Wooltrade, and AuctionsPlus Wool. Elders handled approximately 350,000 wool bales in FY22.