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World’s Largest Flooring Company Drops Damages Claims Against Kiwi Wool Carpet Brand

PRESS RELEASE

1 August 2022


Godfrey Hirst has abandoned its claim for damages and agreed to provide details of its own
advertising campaigns after it acknowledged during a High Court hearing that it had not
provided all documents relevant to the case.


The hearing follows an ongoing David versus Goliath battle with Godfrey Hirst attempting to
prevent NZ owned Bremworth making specific claims about the benefits of wool carpets.


Godfrey Hirst is owned by the world’s largest flooring company, Mohawk Industries, who also
owns the Feltex brand. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Mohawk has annual
revenues in excess of US$11.2bn and has a significant share of the plastic-based synthetic
carpet market.1


In 2020 Bremworth, which has manufacturing facilities in Napier, Whanganui and
Papatoetoe, adopted a new strategy which saw it shift to 100% NZ wool fibres for the
production of wool carpets.


The move has been seen as a significant boost for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and
potentially the country’s export revenues at a time when wool sales had slumped.


Bremworth has also reduced its own consumption of imported plastic raw materials by
approximately 2,500 tonnes per annum.


While latest Government data shows the value of New Zealand’s wool product exports, of
which most is carpet, has fallen by 44% over the past six years, there are positive signs for
the industry with forecasts projecting a 10% increase in export revenue for 2023.2

Godfrey Hirst brought a case against Bremworth saying the NZ company’s claims around
wool carpets being "better for the environment" and that a switch from synthetics to all wool
carpets is "changing for good" are misleading.


This was despite Godfrey Hirst making similar claims, including that they pride themselves
on making the most environmentally friendly carpet on the planet.


As part of the legal process, Bremworth’s counsel requested that Godfrey Hirst provide
copies of its own advertising along with details of Godfrey Hirst's engagement with the
Commerce Commission prior to bringing its claim (the Commission took no enforcement
action) and what Godfrey Hirst had been communicating to the industry.


At the hearing before Associate Judge Johnston, Godfrey Hirst acknowledged it had failed to
provide all of its relevant advertising.


Through its legal counsel Godfrey Hirst said it would be providing the advertising at a future
date, however, the company would be dropping its damages claim against Bremworth.
Greg Smith, Bremworth CEO, says the company, which has been voted New Zealand’s most
trusted carpet brand, stands by its “Let’s Go Good Together” campaign which does not in
any way mislead NZ consumers.


Smith says he believes that wool carpets are not only the best for design and performance
on the floor, wool fibre is also NZ grown, natural, biodegradable and renewable.


“New Zealand’s wool industry has struggled in recent decades against the backdrop of
cheaper synthetic alternatives, but the world is changing and we are confident our
homegrown wool is the natural solution to imported synthetic carpet fibres.


“Our research shows more consumers see the benefits of wool, however we still have a
significant amount of work to do to provide the farming sector with the reassurance they
need to remain committed to the industry in the long term.


“Rebuilding the domestic and export industry and educating the market requires a significant
investment and our full attention - which this court action is an obvious diversion away from.


“As a company we remain committed to supporting New Zealand’s wool sector and working
to promote the lifestyle and design benefits of this natural fibre.


“We firmly believe it is a consumer’s right to make an informed choice between wool
products and synthetic alternatives which are essentially plastic,” he says.


-ENDS


1 Mohawk Industries. Accessible here.

2 Ministry for Primary Industries. Available here.

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