John Roadley Speech Notes To Press Conference
Chairman, Global Dairy Company
Le Grand Hotel
Monday 18 June 2001 Embargoed until 4.00 pm
Today, New Zealand dairy farmers have made the most important commercial decision in New Zealand’s history.
Our shareholders have voted to maintain more than fifty years of industry unity. They have voted to maintain our scale on world markets. They have voted to bring our manufacturing and marketing arms together for the first time, to create a whole business – removing costly duplication and offering better customer service. They have voted to maintain farmer ownership and control, so that the returns from our efforts internationally return to the farm gate; to the regions; to New Zealand.
Today’s vote gives us the opportunity to build on our industry’s success in every continent and in more than 120 countries around the world. And most importantly, the vote tells our competitors that New Zealand will be much more responsive on the world market.
The confidence that our shareholders have shown in us is humbling. We can tell you that the turnout for both companies was well over 80 percent – and that’s record-breaking. Eighty-five percent of Dairy Group votes and 83 percent of Kiwi votes were in favour. That’s an overwhelming majority – a strong mandate for the new company.
As Chairman, I feel a huge sense of responsibility. The efforts of at least three generations of dairy farmers and tens of thousands of industry employees have built an incredibly strong platform for us to build on. Our industry has had fifty years of success and, this last season, we have achieved a record payout. The pressure is on us to perform.
There was one message from the thousands of farmers who came to our special meetings today: They demand that this company comes out on top, on every international benchmark that is put in place.
The next few weeks and months are going to be “head down”, as we build New Zealand’s biggest company. Top of the agenda is appointing a CEO. We plan to make that appointment in the next few weeks.
The necessary legislation will be introduced to the House this week. It goes to the Select Committee. We plan that shareholders will elect their Shareholders’ Council in August. That’s the key forum to make sure that every shareholder can have their views heard by their board. We need to bring the businesses of both companies and the New Zealand Dairy Board together. We need to name the new company. The sale of the half share in New Zealand Dairy Foods will need to be completed.
You should look to October for the new company to be formally in business. We then have to deliver on our commitment to build the world’s most successful dairy co-op. It’s a big challenge. Our strategy is to move from being the world’s ninth largest dairy company to the top five. We have to grow our turnover about 20 percent to do it.
To our shareholders, I say thank you for your patience and for the confidence you have shown in us. I make an absolute commitment to you that we will never lose touch with you, the people who make the industry so strong.
To our 18,000 staff in 120 countries: Thank you for your patience. It must be business as usual across the industry tomorrow morning. It is you that have built the most efficient and most successful dairy manufacturing and marketing business in the world. With the new company, we plan to build our business.
To the Government and the Opposition: Thank you for your constructive approach these last six months.
To New Zealand consumers: Let me say we are a 100 percent New Zealand company, and proud of it. With the sale of Dairy Foods and deregulation, there is going to be even more fierce competition in the domestic market than there is now. We plan to be highly competitive in that market. We hope you will support our brands.
Finally, to the media: As I said, it is now “head down” to build the new company. We are here to answer your questions for the next half hour. You’ve already booked me up for interviews tonight and tomorrow. We will try to answer any questions you have. And then it’s back to work to build New Zealand’s biggest and most important export corporation. Thanks very much.