A 20 per cent upturn in export sales over the next 18 months is being forecast by New Zealand extreme temperature clothing specialist Extreme Apparel following the launch of a new range of thermal clothing created from top quality New Zealand merino wool.

Survival Apparel expects the bulk of the new business to derive from fellow Asia Pacific nations, especially Japan.

"Asian nation consumers love natural fibre garments and are also quality conscious shoppers," says a company spokesman.

The company already sells up to 60 per cent of its output overseas - and is confident that the introduction of the new merino version of its already popular Everwarm range will help lift turnover levels from the equivalent of $3m a year to double that figure.

By Sonia Roberts.