Australian sandalwood producer Tropical Forestry Services has rebranded, as the company pivots its focus from growing trees to marketing its product to the perfume, pharmaceutical and skincare trade. Source: ABC News Rural
Now known as Quintis, the Perth-headquartered company said the move would help it market an authentic product, in a market increasingly targeted by organised crime and fraud. Controlling around 80% of the world’s dwindling Indian sandalwood supplies,
Quintis managing director Frank Wilson said the rebranding was also about assuring its major customers that the products were sustainable and ethical.
“We’re working in markets, like China and India, where there are a lot of knock offs, but the prize is big so it’s worth going for,” he said.
The company exported its first shipment of sandalwood to China in October last year, marking the start of a five-year agreement to supply 150 tonnes of processed heartwood to China each year, valued at $29 million per annum.
Mr Wilson said the company was constantly searching for more land to expand, and as more trees reached maturity exports were tipped to grow further.
While China was the company’s largest market, it was eyeing India for future expansion plans. Under current export rules, India will only accept processed oil, and timber must be cut down to small blocks.
“At the moment, we don’t have the volume to supply India, but over the next decade that will change, so it will be a big market for us,” Mr Wilson said.
Quintis has secured the services of a former cricketer to drive sales in the cricket-mad country. Company ambassador and major investor Adam Gilchrist looks like maintaining a long-term involvement in the company.
Quintis has a range of advanced medical trials in the USA using sandalwood to treat skin conditions such as warts, eczema and psoriasis. It owns the company running the trials, and its board is considering listing on the NASDAQ.
“We haven’t made a final decision, but things look highly prospective for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the USA,” Mr Wilson said.
“The US is the home of biotech and the pharmaceutical industry, so I think it’s natural to launch there if we choose to go down that path.”
Despite the positive outlook for the company it remains one of the most heavily shorted stocks on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Mr Wilson said altering investors perceptions about he potential of Australian forestry, and drawing a clear line between the company’s growth and the failed Managed Invest Schemes of the past was a big challenge for the company.
“We’re one of those companies where we have pioneered everything we’ve done,” he said. “Ever since we started this company people have been saying we won’t be able to make it, we can’t grow sandalwood, and if we could it would not be high enough quality, then people said we wouldn’t have a market, but we’ll continue to prove people wrong.”
Local investors have proven harder to convince than their overseas counterparts, with major United Kingdom and United States funds representing most of Quintis’s major shareholders.