Westland Milk Products has made its final appointment to the team that will drive the company into the future.

 

Chief executive Toni Brendish has appointed Jeffrey Goodwin as sales general manager, the final position in her overhaul of the dairy co-operative’s executive leadership team.

Goodwin joins the Hokitika-based milk processor from his role as global operations vice president of James Farrell and Co, which represents United States manufacturers in the export of their ingredients and finished goods.

Brendish said Goodwin’s experience in food and ingredients sales was global in scale with a record of success in southeast Asia, Japan, China and the United States.

“He has a proven ability to grow sales, develop new markets and establish key business relationships.

“His experience is in keeping with Westland’s strategy to differentiate the company and products and form partnerships with key companies that can give Westland penetration into high-value market niches,” Brendish said.

“Using this new strategy we expect to be announcing some significant new deals this year and we’ll be looking to Jeffrey to identify, capture and deliver on more of these types of sales,” she said.

Since she joined Westland in 2016 Brendish has completely overhauled the dairy co-operative’s leadership team, bringing in a new chief financial officer, chief operations officer and Shanghai general manager.

She also elevated people and safety (human resources) to the executive leadership team and retained long-serving company secretary Mark Lockington.

“This is the team that will drive Westland forward,” Brendish said.

“We’ve already introduced efficiencies right across the board that are delivering more than $70 million in savings, giving us the confidence to predict a competitive payout to shareholders for this season with very real prospects of sustaining that sort of return well into the future.”

Westland fell behind its competitors in 2016-17 when it made a $17m loss and its payout, at $5.18, was the lowest of all the Kiwi dairy companies.

Under Brendish’s revitalisation and in just 18 months the co-operative was clearly closing the gap.

With an accomplished career with French food group Danone, Brendish was brought in as chief executive in September 2016.

At a special shareholders meeting in October far-reaching changes were introduced including a reduction of the number of directors from 11 to eight.

From the beginning Brendish said she didn’t have a problem with the company’s direction – for her, it was more about focus on execution or the lack of it.

She put an intense emphasis on cost-cutting and on growing revenue while continuing with the overall strategy of diversification that was in place before she arrived.

Her aim was to get people focused on the things that would drive revenue and cut costs.

That meant focusing on economies such as cutting photocopying costs through to treasury management and transport tendering.

The goal was to provide $78m of revenue upside and cost savings and at $77m that target was well on track and fast closing the gap with its competitors.

Westland has a forecast payout range of $6.40 to $6.80/kg for 2017-18.

While the company had signalled it would probably be at the lower end of that range it is looking significantly better than last year’s, which was well over a dollar short of Fonterra.

Westland’s forecast is within striking distance of Fonterra, which is for a milk price of $6.40/kg, topped with a likely dividend of about 28 cents a share.

The company’s UHT plant at Rolleston was now running at 50% capacity.

In infant formula Westland had expanded its customer base and its nutritionals plant was running at two-thirds capacity, which was adding significant value in terms of payout.

Westland had more fingers in different pies including making infant formula with joint venture partner China-based Taiwanese Ausnutria under the brand name Puredo.

Skim milk powder, once the mainstay of the business, had become less important but could still be funnelled into nutritionals products if need be.

It expected to produce about 130,000 tonnes of products this year – about 20% of that would be in nutritionals or infant formula and a third in butter and fats.