Australian dairy cooperative Murray Goulburn has announced the appointment of John Spark as chairman.

Spark, who joins Murray Goulburn next month, will replace Philip Tracy who is retiring from the post after serving as chairman of the Devondale maker for around six years. 

Announcing the news, Murray Goulburn said Spark has “extensive” board experience having previously served as chairman of animal nutrition firm Ridley Corporation. He has also sat on the boards of companies including Newcrest Mining, Baxter Group and MacArthur Coal. Spark was managing partner at Ferrier Hodgson and was also formerly a partner at Arthur Andersen and Martin & Waters. 

Murray Goulburn stressed Spark also has a “passion for agriculture”. Until recently he had an Angus cattle farm and was an investor in Victoria’s fourth largest asparagus producer, the company noted. 

Spark said: “As chairman, I look forward to playing a central role at Murray Goulburn and working closely with my fellow directors and chief executive officer, Ari Mervis, to build a stronger company for the future.”

Mervis took the helm as CEO in December. Since then, Murray Goulburn launched a strategic review of its assets and distribution network after the embattled group reported a loss of AUD32m (US$24.5m) for the first six months of its financial year as a result of lower sales.