Sanford appoints Rob McLeod to board, seeks tie-up with Maori fisheries

Rob McLeod accepted an invitation to join Auckland-based Sanford's board from January 1.

Sanford [NZX: SAN], New Zealand's largest listed fishing group, will add Ernst & Young chairman Rob McLeod to its board next year as it seeks to get closer to Maori fishing firms in a bid to lift the industry's performance against foreign rivals.

Mr McLeod, a former chairman of Sealord Group and Aotearoa Fisheries Group, accepted an invitation to join Auckland-based Sanford's board from January 1, the company said in a statement. His past appointment at Sealord and on the Waitangi Fisheries Commission was seen as an opportunity for Sanford to collaborate more close with major Maori fishing groups. Those tie-ups were needed to level an uneven playing field where foreign companies are supported by their countries of origin or have other advantages not available to local firms, it said.

There are "a number of specific areas beyond developing the revolutionary and innovative 'precision seafood harvesting' method of sustainable fishing, where Sanford could cooperate and collaborate with the major Maori fishing companies," Sanford said. Mr McLeod's "extensive knowledge and relationships within the Maori fishing industry could be instrumental in assisting unlocking these benefits for the New Zealand fishing industry."

Sanford has pared back its operations in the past year, closing an unprofitable mussel processing factory in Christchurch, and last month announced plans to exit the Pacific tuna business, putting the unit's fleet up for sale.

The company also said director Mark Cowsill will resign from the board from November 30.

The shares were unchanged at $4.92, and have increased 2.5% this year.