Australian Wool Services (AWS) has begun the search for a new managing director following the decision by current MD David Conners not to renew his contract with AWS parent The Woolmark Company.

AWS chairman Trevor Flugge said the replacement for Conners, who will retire in the first half of 2004, will oversee the company's operations in Australia and Europe.

During his nine-year tenure as managing director, Conners has overseen the acquisition of New Zealand-based textile machinery maker Andar and the development of numerous wool innovations.

"A large cross section of the wool industry have shown huge support and respect for David's leadership of the company during a challenging period for the wool industry," Flugge said.

"David is well known the world over in the textile industry and has developed close business relationships with retailers, textile companies and multinational home laundry businesses.

"The board thanks David for his supreme efforts made in the transition of The Woolmark Company from the former statutory marketing authority to a private company with a shareholder focus and providing the potential for future growth and expansion."