AWI performance 'appropriate', review finds

AWI improved performance highlighted in review

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AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough has welcomed the findings of the latest review of performance.

AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough has welcomed the findings of the latest review of performance.

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Australian Wool Innovation has shown notable improvement in its performance but there's still room for improvement in its strategic focus and communication with stakeholders, an independent review has found.

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Australian Wool Innovation has shown notable improvement in its performance but there's still room for improvement in its strategic focus and communication with stakeholders, an independent review has found.

The report was carried out by international professional services firm Accenture and was released on Wednesday.

It found despite a "difficult backdrop" including the critical 2018 review of AWI's performance and external challenges including falling wool prices, the increased dominance of China in the consumer market and the COVID-19 pandemic, AWI's performance "has been appropriate".

According to the report, AWI has been meeting or partially meeting most of its performance principles and that in terms of board culture, while there have been significant improvements since 2019, "external perception lags behind the improvements".

Key achievements highlighted included AWI's response to the last review of performance, strengthened marketing through campaigns such as Luna Ross Prada and improvements to organisational culture.

But the report also highlighted that AWI was "generally missing strategic objectives at the organisation and portfolio level whether that be marketing, RD&E or stakeholder engagement".

Stakeholder communication was shown to be an area where AWI had made "significant gains" but the report pointed out there were "still significant opportunities to improve engagement with levy payers, shareholders and the broader wool industry".

The report includes just 14 recommendations, compared to the 82 recommendations contained in the body's 2018 review of performance.

AWI has committed to implementing all of the recommendations, which include developing a stakeholder communication strategy, improving industry engagement, and strengthening research and development investment by developing strategic priorities with input from woolgrowers.

The review also recommended commissioning an independent report to measure current and predict future trends in consumer sentiment towards mulesed wool, undertaking an internal review of the WoolQ project and investigating the viability of a broader brand strategy for wool as a fibre.

The report also recommends increasing mixed farming and Next Generation representation on the Wool Industry Consultation Panel, overseeing strategic planning for 2022-23 by ensuring alignment with the Wool 2030 Strategy and alignment of AWI's vision and purpose with shareholders and levy payers and formalising the process of consultation with the industry via the Wool Industry Consultation Panel.

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AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said he is pleased with the report card but also acknowledges AWI must continue to work hard on behalf of Australia's woolgrowers.

"For woolgrowers, the report means that their company, AWI, is being rigorously evaluated every three years, so opportunities for AWI to do better can be identified and addressed," he said.

"As well as being complimentary on many things that AWI does, the most recent report also highlighted AWI's positive response to the previous review of performance.

"In contrast to the 2018 review's 509-page report containing 82 recommendations, this year's review has resulted in a 60-page report containing 14 recommendations.

"While we will address these new recommendations expeditiously, the fewer recommendations in the latest review is a demonstration of both how seriously we've considered these reviews and, importantly, how far AWI has come in improving its performance."

The report noted that while key changes to board tenure and the board nomination have been enacted or planned, the impact of these changes "will not materialise in the timeline of this review. Thus, the impact of these activities should be included in the next review of performance".

The drop of the report has also coincided with AWI releasing its WoolPoll Voter Information Memorandum ahead of the opening of voting on September 13.

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