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April 3, 2012

NZ: Turners & Growers makes senior management appointments

New Zealand fruit trader Turners & Growers (T&G) has announced its new senior management following its recent takeover by BayWa Aktiengesellschaft.

New Zealand fruit trader Turners & Growers (T&G) has announced its new senior management following its recent takeover by BayWa Aktiengesellschaft.

The company has confirmed the intended appointments of BayWa representatives Klaus Josef Lutz and Andreas Helber as directors, with Lutz taking up the role of chairman.

Replacing former CEO Jeff Wesley will be Geoff Hipkins, who will step into the position with immediate effect. Hipkins has “significant experience” from growth and restructuring roles over the last two decades in New Zealand’s primary export sector, the firm said.

The appointment follows the resignation of Wesley from T&G last month.

BayWa’s head of corporate controlling, Harald Hamster-Egerer, will take up the role of CFO, and the German company’s head of corporate business development, Dr Philipp Wahl, will become COO.

“The board thanks retiring managing director Jeff Wesley and departing CFO Paul Alston for their contribution in building T&G into the global business it has become, with the potential to become a world class distributor of fresh produce,” the company said.

In addition, former National Bank head Sir John Anderson and Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Wilson have been appointed independent directors. Jeff Wesley, Brian D’Ath and Christina Symmans resigned from the board on 7 March.

T&G was taken over by BayWa last month for an undisclosed sum. The company has said it believes the move will have “significant benefits” for New Zealand’s fresh produce industries. T&G said the German company’s scale and market access, particularly across Europe, will be a boost for New Zealand exports.

Alongside the appointments, T&G has announced an “optimisation review” of the company’s entire operations.

The review, the company said, will focus on areas such as grower returns and relationships with the company, streamlining operations, an increased focus on Asian markets, and coordination with BayWa’s European distribution network.

“BayWa is willing to make available its supply chain expertise if that can bring significant benefits to T&G’s logistical and distributional functions,” said Lutz. “BayWa’s experience in working in partnership with apple growers in Southern Germany may be particularly relevant to achieving sustainable returns for growers of New Zealand’s premium apple varieties.

“We see an excellent future for the industry given the efficiencies that can be achieved from consolidating distribution and logistics and working in closer partnership with growers.”

Lutz added the coordination of T&G and BayWa’s European operations could create new markets in the region for New Zealand produce, particularly lemons and blueberries.

Results of the review are expected to be progressively implemented by T&G.

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