The Wool Board today outlined its future plans to adapt to the continuingly difficult market, recognising that returns to producers must improve either through cost saving or increased sales value.

Having now disposed of its trading subsidiaries, the Board's resources are being concentrated on collecting and handling the clip and the benefits of a rationalisation and investment programme.

Reduced running costs of £180,000 per annum have been achieved, following last year's move to more economic head office and depot premises in Bradford. A further £50,000 has been generated in Mid Wales, where the Dinas Mawddwy operation had been transferred to the improved, larger premises in Newtown.

The next phase of the strategy to run fewer depots with larger throughput, will be in the North of England where, following the acquisition of a new depot in Carlisle, depots in Hexham and Carnforth will be closed at the end of this season.

The Board's policy aims to sell the clip within the year of production; sell a high proportion before Christmas, to allow for a fall off later in the year and to sell around 15 per cent of the new clip before the season. This is proving to be effective.

Ninety-eight per cent of the 1999 clip has been sold within the year of production and despite the strength of sterling, particularly against the NZ$, and the effects of the Middle East crisis and rising oil prices, 47 per cent of the 2000 clips has now been sold, comparable with 52 per cent a year ago.

Next year when the new objective measurement testing equipment will be installed in all depots, at a cost of £173,000, all the clip will be sold to internationally recognized specification, which should give greater assurance to buyers and secure a more consistent market.

Partnership funding has been very successful, particularly in shearing training and product research and development and will be pursued. Grants from the European Social Fund have already provided free shearing training for more than 500 trainees and contributed towards retraining instructors. While working with CYMAD, which administers the leader 11 programme in North Wales, jointly commissioned research studies into the feasibility of manufacturing thermal and acoustic insulation and its market potential have been positive.