Who is Fuhrmann? Argentina’s largest wool exporter is part of a global group specialized in high quality animal fibers, which even shears vicuñas in Catamarca.

17 Dec 2022

Based in Trelew, Fuhrmann has more than twenty years of experience in wool production and is the main exporter of the product with about 20% of the market.

In recent years, Fuhrmann has managed to consolidate its position as an international leader in the organic wool segment, through which it sells the Patagonian fiber directly to renowned buyers such as Luis Vuitton or Yves Saint Laurent, among others.

The company was founded by the Swiss group Schneider -created in 1922 by the Australian Giovanni Schneider and managed today by the third generation- and started operating in the country in 1999. Since 2002, with the purchase of Fuhrmann 1735, one of the oldest wool traders in the world, the company (which until then was Schneider Argentina) was renamed Fuhrmann SA.

As of 2012, Fuhrmann diversified its business and established its own livestock division, which manages and rents several estancias with more than 150,000 sheep. It manages 20 farms located in the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz. All of them are organic and have the international Responsible Wool Standard (R.W.S) certification or are in the process of achieving it.

In 2019, it also became the first Argentine company to export a batch of “unique ethical wool”, consisting of certified organic wool tops that were also considered carbon neutral.

The company, which exports more than 5,000 tons of clean wool per wool harvest, stands out for presenting several certifications regarding animal welfare and organic treatment, with a strong focus on sustainability, positioning the company as a supplier in a global textile market with increasing requirements regarding its value chain, while allowing the company to have differential margins, especially in the organic wool segment.

Its parent company, the Schneider Group (also known as Société Européenne pour le Financement d’Initiatives Textiles SA), owns 95% of Fuhrmann S.A. The group has an international trading network, with offices in Australia and New Zealand, and first-stage manufacturing of fine wool, cashmere, silk, and precious natural fibers, which it supplies to the world’s best spinners and weavers. It has operations in Italy, China, Mongolia and Egypt, in addition to Argentina.

Schneider is such an important and relevant company in this market that supranational organizations such as the IMF often use its statistical surveys for their reports on the global wool sector.

Under the business scheme of the Argentine subsidiary is also the company Sanin SA, of which it holds 80% of the shares. This is where it adds value to the company’s business, as it provides a vicuña shearing service, offering its production to counterparties of proven credit quality, such as the French conglomerate Louis Vuitton.

Sanin SA was established in 2007. It purchased approximately 108,000 hectares in the province of Catamarca (Sanin SA). According to information on its website, the company estimates that between 6,000 and 8,000 vicuñas live on these lands, almost 10% of the total number of vicuñas in Argentina. After the province granted the usufruct permits, they began shearing vicuñas and marketing their yarn.

Analyzing by segments, during the last five periods the company generated revenues in the order of US$52.6 million on average (except for the 20/21 harvest, which was an exceptional period), of which 88% is made up of tops and blousse sent abroad and another 6.5% corresponds to export reimbursements. Revenues from the sale of by-products represented 1.8% of its revenues, while another 1.8% originated from its combing operations. Revenues from ranches and sales of tops to the domestic market complete the rest of Fuhrmann S.A.’s revenues.

The main export destinations for its products are European countries, Turkey, America and, to a lesser extent, China. Obtaining several international quality licenses, which act as barriers to entry in this sector, has enabled Fuhrmann SA to strategically position its product as a differential asset over other local wool exporters, such as Textil Ituzaingo, Lempriere SA, Unilan Trelew SA, and Chargeurs Wool SA, among others.

The Argentine domestic market is not relevant to Fuhrmann SA’s business operations, representing less than 2% of transactions by volume, mainly because local transaction prices are relatively low in relation to international market prices.

Source: Bichos de campo