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New Zealand Wool - What the best-dressed chairs are wearing in the Middle East

New Zealand upholstery may not be as headline-grabbing as the fabrics paraded during the recent L’Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week, but nearly two kilometres of it will soon adorn some of the most elegant furniture in the Middle East.

Auckland company Maxwell Rodgers Fabrics has won a contract to supply 1.7 kms of fine wool upholstery to the exclusive new Four Seasons Hotel in Amman, Jordan – a sales coup won through the company’s long standing reputation and engineered with the help of Trade New Zealand.

Maxwell Rodgers managing director Roger Green says the Four Seasons deal – worth more than $100,000 – was one of several resulting from a long standing business relationship between his company and the Four Seasons chain, based in Canada.

Maxwell Rodgers has supplied fabric for Four Seasons hotels in Maui, Dallas, London, Singapore, Toronto and Jakarta. Trade New Zealand’s Dubai office organised appointments for Mr Green to visit the Middle East last year, and the Amman deal followed.

Mr Green says the project was a geographical challenge. “The interior design was done by the Richmond Group in England. The purchase orders came from Canada. We delivered the fabric from New Zealand to England, where it was upholstered on to chairs that were shipped to Jordan.

”However, the longstanding relationship between Four Seasons and Maxwell Rodgers means we have high credibility with the hotel chain. And they have always appreciated the quality of New Zealand wool – that it still looks good years down the track.”

Maxwell Rodgers employs five people, and works with New Zealand mills to develop products for specific projects.

Anne Chappaz, Trade New Zealand’s Apparel and Textile Account Manager, says the Four Seasons contract illustrates that behind the scenes - while New Zealand design and apparel have been grabbing recent headlines - textile industry players are quietly making their mark on the international scene too.

“New Zealand manufacturers are known for producing high quality wool and unique designs,.” Ms Chappaz says. “Their ability to cope with small, highly customised orders and also to efficiently manage the supply-chain process makes them internationally competitive,” she says.

The statistics prove high fashion is not the only sub-sector of New Zealand’s apparel and textile exports that is growing. In the year ending December 2001, textile exports earned $165 million - up from $108 million the year before - and are predicted to rise again significantly once this year is tallied. Export sales of textile products have increased steadily during the last four years.




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