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Management changes for Primary Wool

Management changes for Primary Wool

The managing director of Primary Wool Cooperative Ltd, Brian Murray, is stepping down from the job.

His resignation 12 months after the launch of the farmer-owned wool procurement and marketing cooperative, comes after he and the company's Board of Directors were unable to agree on a number of issues.

Mr Murray will be on leave until the end of January when his resignation will take effect.

The chairman of Primary Wool, Takapau wool grower Bay de Lautour, says the Board is reluctant to see Mr Murray leave, but he says the mutual decision is in the best interests of the company.

"There have been a number of significant issues which Brian and the directors have not been able to reach agreement on, and the result of that has been that Brian has taken the decision to step aside," he says. "Directors are well aware that he has put his heart and soul into the creation and development of Primary Wool - no one is under any illusions about that - but the directors are firmly of the view that there is a need for change in culture and in the direction of the company.

"Brian has worked for or with the company for 35 years, and the directors are grateful for the tremendous work he has put in over that time. We are disappointed that agreement couldn't be reached, but we respect his position and his decision, and we wish him well for the future."

The search for a replacement has already started, but in the meantime Mr de Lautour will step in as acting CEO with the assistance of South Island director Howie Gardener, who is also a director of CRT.

Wellington-based farm management consultant and businessman Graham Twist, who was a director of Primary Wool, has disagreed with other directors over the same issues, and has resigned from the board.

Following these changes, Primary Wool has been able to pursue several major new developments, and further announcements on these will be made in the next few weeks.

Mr de Lautour says Primary Wool has been through a difficult establishment period, but it is in a strong financial position. A broad restructure of the company involving the sale of several non-core assets and the development of new strategic alliances, are enabling it to place more emphasis on its core business of trading wool.

It has shifted its head office from Dannevirke to Napier, rationalised its Southland and Otago operations, and has recently appointed Peter Harrison to the new position of Chief Financial Officer. Mr Harrison, who has a Bachelor of Commerce and ACA, is a recent immigrant from Zimbabwe and has a solid accounting background in large business enterprises here and in Zimbabwe.

Mr de Lautour says these changes have set in place a solid foundation for the company to continue its progress.

"We've gone from handling 34,00 bales of wool to the budgeted number of 158,000 bales, our shareholder numbers have doubled in the last 12 months, the company has moved into healthy profit, we are moving forward with excellent structures and staff in place, and we'll continue to develop innovative policies that will enhance the incomes of our grower-shareholders," he says.

"But volume is critical if profits and good service are to be achieved in the longer term, so farmer support remains essential for our success."

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