Spierings reshuffles Fonterra management team again, creates new consumer, foodservice unit

Fonterra Cooperative Group [NZX: FSF] chief executive Theo Spierings has reshuffled the roles of some of his top managers for the third time in a year in changes he says will sharpen the commercial and customer focus at the world's largest dairy exporter.

Last year, Fonterra laid off 835 staff as it restructured the business after drafting in corporate consulting firm McKinsey & Co for advice on creating a leaner business. The milk processor is heading into the third season of low milk prices amid a global oversupply and weak demand. In 2012,  it unveiled its V3 strategy involving volume, value, and velocity aimed at increasing milk production volumes to ensure Fonterra maintains its share of the growing dairy market, driving more value from its milk through higher-value products, and doing so at speed.

Jacqueline Chow, previously chief operating officer Velocity, has been appointed chief operating officer of the newly created global consumer and foodservice unit that will include all consumer and foodservice business units in the cooperative's key markets, the Auckland-based cooperative said in a statement. Ms Chow moved into what was the newly created Velocity role 12 months ago, having previously been managing director global brands and nutrition.

Judith Swales, previously managing director Oceania, has been appointed chief operating officer Velocity and Innovation and will manage the cooperative's transformation and disruption agenda, as well as research, development and technology, Fonterra said. She had been managing director for Australia until October last year when she was promoted to head of Oceania, a new unit that added the New Zealand consumer business to Fonterra's Australian segment.

Fonterra's managing director Greater China and Asia, Middle East and Africa, John Priem, will retire on July 31 and Fonterra said it expects to make announcements on leadership structures in the region next month. Mr Priem was promoted to that role in August last year, having previously been president Greater China.

"This is the right step in our evolution," Mr Spierings said. "We're keeping farmers at the heart of our co-op while focusing on delivering to our global customers and consumers."

Ms Chow will hold her new position into 2017 after which she plans to retire from executive positions and return to Australia to pursue board directorships, Mr Spierings said, adding that he wanted to tap her "wealth of consumer and business experience" to create the cooperative's new "world class" unit before she leaves.

"We have an ambition to have our consumer and foodservice brands at the No 1 and 2 positions in our eight key strategic markets," Mr Spierings said. "Lining up our markets and consumer and foodservice teams enhances our focus on delivering world leading consumer brands."

The Australian unit, which is expected to turn a profit this year or next, will continue to report to Judith Swales in her new role.

"With Judith heading up Velocity and Innovation, we will get an end-to-end view of our efforts to drive efficiency across our business, bringing increased commercial focus to our research, development and technology and taking a strategic view on developing game-changing business models," Mr Spierings said.

Among other changes, Miles Hurrell, previously group director of cooperative affairs, has been appointed chief operating officer Farm Source.

Kelvin Wickham is now chief operating officer NZMP and Robert Spurway is now chief operating officer global operations. Mr Spierings said the new titles better reflect the breadth of their roles.


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