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Deloitte/ Management magazine Top 200 Awards 2006

Embargoed until 11pm Thursday 23 November, 2006

Deloitte/ Management magazine Top 200 Awards 2006

Greg Muir, the man whose name is synonymous with taking Pumpkin Patch public and then to the world, has been named as New Zealand’s top business executive for 2006.

Muir was last night named the Deloitte/Management magazine Executive of the Year at the annual Top 200 Company Awards, now in their 17th year and regarded by business leaders as the country’s most prestigious business awards.

Muir took the title ahead of fierce competition from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare MD and CEO Michael Daniell and Meridian Energy’s Keith Turner.

Judges said that since listing in 2004, Muir has re-strategised and re-energised Pumpkin Patch, allowing the company, which had its roots in mail order, to spread its retail tentacles into Australia and then with equal and growing success into the globally strategic United Kingdom and United States markets.

Such international diversity has insulated Pumpkin Patch against any softening in local markets and has underpinned the company’s consistent growth in operating revenues, the latest a healthy 11 percent to $311.5 million. Group profit after tax blossomed by almost 16 percent this year to hit $28.5 million and under Muir’s direction, turnover in the UK grew by more than 51 percent.

The judges commented that it was unusual for one person to be so closely associated with the dramatic increase in a company’s fortunes, but his strategic and often hands-on business approach has galvanised change in the business and had a dramatically positive effect on its people, performance and prospects.

Company of the Year Award

A continuing stellar performance by Fletcher Building pips all others to the post this year and sees it claim top honours as this year’s Deloitte/Management magazine Company of the Year.

It’s a record 4th year the company has been a chosen finalist for this award: a title it last won back in 2003.

Judges commented that through that time Fletcher Building’s performance has been so consistently good that it’s been impossible to judge the Top 200 Awards without it featuring prominently somewhere.

The results again, are impressive by any standard; record net profit of $379 million – a nine percent hike on the previous year – and achieved on a 19 percent lift in revenue to
$5.52 billion. Drill down into the numbers and you find that more than a third of Fletcher Building’s revenues now come from across the Tasman, testament to its strategy of selective market and product base diversification.

Judges considered the cornerstone of its patently successful strategies was plain hard work by a very strong management team to continually improve current businesses then take them to a new level of performance by bolting on manageable and incremental product and market-strategic acquisitions.

New chief executive Jonathan Ling signalled in the company’s 2005/06 annual report that while the company will retain a focus on acquisitions and internal investment, there may be some shift in emphasis in the nature of future acquisitions.

Regardless, Fletcher Building looks set to continue to deliver substantial increases in shareholder value in much the same manner as it has for the past five years.

Competing with Fletcher Building for this award were Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and SkyCity Entertainment Group.

Other awards presented on the night were:

QBE Insurance Chairperson of the Year

Winner: Gary Paykel, chair, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Fisher & Paykel Appliances

Gary Paykel’s performance as an executive impressed Top 200 judges as long ago as 1993. Since then he has successfully transitioned to a chairperson’s governance role and again impresses this year’s judges.

Paykel is on record as saying he cannot fathom how boards can function effectively without a deep and intimate knowledge of the businesses they govern. This tenet underpins his boardroom ethic and approach. The result is two companies, both creative and innovative, both major export players, both with very good people policies and both with a very strong grasp of where they want to be.

The judges said Gary Paykel is a chairman who is committed to engendering creativity, all the while remaining a down-to-earth guy who interacts comfortably with all levels of his workforce.

Other finalists for this award were:

Ian Farrant, a long-time professional director and chairman who has helped steer a number of organisations, among them, the NZ Refining Company, Fulton Hogan, Skeggs Group and The Securities Commission, and

Jim McLay, a lawyer and former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, who is currently chairman of Metlifecare, Just Water International and Pharmacybrands, and executive chair of Macquarie New Zealand.

Kensington Swan Ethical Governance Award
Winner: Snowy Peak

Since its establishment in 1981, sustainability – environmental, social and cultural – has been a driving force for Snowy Peak. The company’s board plays a leading role in embedding ethics while the business plan addresses ethically based goals and initiatives to take the company forward in achieving its mission. Snowy Peak runs a comprehensive community engagement programme where the emphasis is on educating youth in ethical leadership.

The other finalists for this award were New Zealand Aluminium Smelters for a programme that aims to achieve a goal of zero waste and City Care, which has developed a training scheme offering unemployed youth the opportunity to participate in paid employment through a series of rotational job placements covering 20 different trades on the road to full-time employment.

Marsh Most Improved Performance Award
Winner: Meridian Energy

It is hard to ignore returns showing a 34 percent spike in revenue and a 292 percent lift in profit after tax. While much of this result comes from Meridian’s sale of a portfolio of Australian hydro stations, the value gained underscores the company’s ability to make big and far-sighted decisions and work them strategically to provide shareholder, community and national advantage in the vital energy sector in New Zealand.

The company ran with its idea to invest offshore, strategically applied its engineering know-how and ultimately harvested the results for the benefit of its shareholders in this country.

This extraordinary result is underpinned by Meridian’s base level of financial performance that is self-sustaining year on year.

Other finalists for this award were: Crean Foodservice (since renamed Bidvest New Zealand) and Ryman Healthcare.

Colliers International Best Growth Strategy
Winner: Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare continues to push boundaries through both product and strategic market innovation. Last year the company progressed its aim to serve a much broader range of patient groups beyond its traditional intensive care market and the results have already been stunning. Inroads into new areas like non-invasive ventilation and oxygen and humidity therapy have effectively delivered new and substantial customer bases.

Judges praised the company’s ability to devise and manage product rollouts internationally and its innovative approach to new product development, saying it all added up to a tremendous improvement for the company’s revenues, profits and prospects.

Other finalists for this award were ANZ National Bank and Fletcher Building.

Deloitte Emerging Enterprise Award
Winner: Open Country Cheese

Waharoa-based Open Country Cheese was formed back in 2001, the same day legislation restructuring the dairy industry was passed excising the then Dairy Board’s sole rights to export New Zealand dairy product.

It began cheese production in 2004, the year in which it also made a public share offer providing for the first time the opportunity for non-dairy farmers to buy a slice of the dairy industry – New Zealand’s largest export sector.

It’s had a continuing run of “firsts” since then. In its first production season the company way exceeded its production target of 5000 tonnes of premium grade cheese for export and in doing so used only about one-quarter of its plant capacity. Last season it had 26 milk suppliers. That’s risen to more than 100 for the 2006/07 season. This time around it expects to at least double its production volumes. And the latest financial consequence - a $1.87 million net surplus on revenues that have already doubled to $42.4 million.

Other finalists for this award were: Prolificx, a company specialising in the design and manufacture of embedded hardware for the mobile communications market, and Rakon, which produces high performance quartz crystal components for the electronics markets.

Designworks Enterprise IG Visionary Leader Award
Winner: Sir Roger Douglas

It is hard today to look at the list of Top 200 Companies and find any that do not bear traces of the legacies of Sir Roger Douglas. In naming Sir Roger for this year’s award, judges considered him to be the person, who in the past two decades, has had the most pronounced visionary impact on our business community.

They say credit can be laid at his door for a series of far-reaching and profound changes to the way New Zealand now does business. In a parliamentary career spanning three decades, Douglas spearheaded new thinking and a radical overhaul of the national economy. The deregulation of external trade barriers, the floating of the dollar, internal deregulation to force greater competition and new monetary policy all contributed to the process of economic reform.

Douglas, say the judges, forced New Zealand to rejoin the world by opening up the economy and removing external barriers to trade. Internally, he led the charge to de-regulate many industries, providing the business world with a lot more flexibility and adaptability.

NZIM/Eagle Technology Young Executive of the Year
Winner: Brett Gamble, strategy director, Solid Energy New Zealand

Brett Gamble is a leader and strategist who in the past year has made an outstanding contribution to the success of South Island-based Solid Energy.

Working in an environmentally sensitive industry, Gamble has led the team that first identified and then developed the company’s renewable fuels operation, Nature’s Flame – a biomass energy business making wood pellets from renewable wood waste.

Judges say that under Gamble’s oversight, strategic planning has become an integral part of Solid Energy’s management process, providing the corporation with a single vision and strong accountability throughout the business.

Part of this has been Gamble’s identification of new opportunity for the enterprise as it moves from its traditional coal mining and distribution base towards equally efficient but more sustainable energy products.

The judges say he demonstrates an “intellectual robustness” that underpins his ability to always see the bigger picture, and identify and pursue wider business opportunity for the enterprise, among them biomass, coal seam gas, coal-derived transport fuels and hydrogen-based fuels. In recent times he has also co-led an acquisition that delivered rapid growth to the business and has taken the lead in the investigation of opportunities for the clean use of coal.

His strategic vision and long-term analytical abilities make him a standout contributor, not just to Solid Energy and the coal industry, but to the national economy as a whole.

Other finalists for this award were:
Jonnette Adams, project manager with Transit New Zealand, and
Jason New, regional manager, Auckland, Westpac Banking Corporation.


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