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International marketing specialist stands for Zespri board

International marketing specialist stands for Zespri board

Tuesday 10 June, 2014

International produce marketing specialist, Hillary Brick, has announced her nomination for the upcoming director elections for the board of kiwifruit exporter Zespri.

Hillary is a New Zealander who has been living in the United States for the past 30 years.

Originally from Te Puke, Hillary is a long-term shareholder in a family owned kiwifruit orchard near the town.

"I have been very fortunate to enjoy 25 years of experience in international fruit marketing", she said, "I'd be privileged to give back to an industry which has played such an important part in my life."

After gaining an MA Hons in Japanese from Auckland University, Hillary initially worked for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was posted to the Tokyo embassy where she was involved with press relations and trade negotiations.

Since the early 1980s Hillary has lived in the United States with her husband Lee, a University Professor specialising in hydrology. During that time she has been involved in produce marketing with the New Zealand Trade Commission and the Kiwifruit Marketing Board where she held the position of North American marketing manager for six years.

For the past 20 years she has worked with the Giumarra Group of Companies, a global grower and marketer of fresh produce in North and South America, Asia and Europe. Since 2003 she has been Senior Vice-President, Marketing with the company.

Hillary was a Board member of the California Kiwifruit Commission from 2008 to 2011 and was also a California delegate to the International Kiwifruit Organisation during that time.

"My background has given me a deep understanding of what it takes to build, operate and sustain a complex, diversified global business in fresh produce and how to work effectively with a very diverse range of stakeholders," she said.

She says Zespri has built a very valuable brand and has proven itself to be a very effective global marketer.

However she says it will face challenges in the years ahead because the marketing environment is changing as retailers consolidate and supermarket conglomerates like Walmart expand their reach globally.

Hillary is a firm believer in the power of the single point of entry (SPE) and the benefits it delivers to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

"The SPE enables growers to maintain their bargaining power in the face of the consolidation of the retail chains that I've just mentioned."

She says it also lets them take a long term strategic view in developing markets and in maintaining consistent product quality, both of which are vital for both repeat sales and for bringing in new consumers.

"Kiwifruit growers have come through some difficult days over recent years and it's good to see there is now a more positive outlook within the industry," she says.

"But we need to make sure we keep our eye on the ball and make the most of the opportunities ahead – like expanding existing markets and opening up new ones for the large volume of gold that is coming through."

Hillary says she believes Zespri needs a three-pronged strategy going into the future – a focus on marketing to meet the needs of each individual customer, an intensive focus on cost management and transparency of information.

"These are the three fundamentals that will drive and improve grower returns into the future."

Some leaders in the fresh produce industry have already given Hillary their support.

John Paynter, founding Chairman of Zespri and Chairman of Yummy Fruit Company is quoted in her campaign leaflet saying: "Hillary knows how the fruit business works and what it takes to be successful. It's not often you get someone with Hillary's skills. Very few people in New Zealand have the experience in the international fruit markets that Hillary can lay claim to. I have worked with Hillary for 25 years and she is a fine strategist.".

Dave Smith, President of United Fresh in New Zealand and Chairman of the Freshmax Group says, "Hillary's background and 'face to face' experience with retailers place her in a unique position to provide guidance when considering future strategies and performance…her combination of hands on sales skills, promotional and general business experience sets her above others in our industry."

Hillary said she was humbled by the support she has received and would be honoured if selected.


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