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Pierre van Heerden to step down as head of Sanitarium


25 October 2016

Pierre van Heerden to step down as head of Sanitarium

Sanitarium Executive General Manager Pierre van Heerden has announced that he has resigned and will step down as Head of Sanitarium in December 2016, after a handover period.

Van Heerden has led Sanitarium New Zealand since April 2007. He started with Sanitarium in Australia in 1996, before relocating to New Zealand. He has held various roles in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, including Managing Director of Dick Smith Foods and various other senior roles in finance, innovation and development, as well as logistics. He has also been actively involved in industry and government bodies having led the Food and Grocery Council in a number of roles including Chairman, been on various advisory groups to the government and ministers, such as the Front of Pack Labelling advisory group, Health Star Rating advisory group, Food and Beverage Industry Information project and is one of three New Zealand businessmen on the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security.

"It has been a privilege to lead Sanitarium in New Zealand over the past 10 years and I will miss the camaraderie and great sense of humour of my team," van Heerden said. "It has been a difficult decision to make, but it is time to explore some new challenges and opportunities within our vibrant food industry. I want to make sure there is a seamless changeover, so I have agreed to work through to December to help with the continued success of my team and the company.”

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“During my time leading Sanitarium, we have had some great achievements as a company. A big focus has been on team development and culture and we have reached a point where I am confident that such a strong team will continue to deliver. We started the KickStart breakfast programme which has served more than 14 million breakfasts to Kiwi kids in need, our Weet-Bix TRYathlon has achieved new records and is the biggest kids triathlon series in the world, and our brands are very strong. There were some challenges during this period both as a nation and company, with the Christchurch earthquakes, subsequent closure of our Christchurch factory and of course "Marmageddon”, which gripped the nation," van Heerden said.

Kevin Jackson, Global CEO of Sanitarium, says that “Pierre has made a significant contribution to both the growth of our business in New Zealand and to the New Zealand food industry. His accomplishments are well known and recognised in the community and industry. We certainly wish him well as he turns to new opportunities.”

After completing senior executive courses at both London Business School and INSEAD this year, as part of a Prime Minister’s Business Scholarship he was awarded, van Heerden says that he is looking forward to some new challenges and opportunities.

“While I have always enjoyed working for Sanitarium and continue to be committed to the company vision, I am also looking forward to some free time to reflect and follow some of my personal passions like exploring the world, making a difference in international trade, learning new things and finding the best cappuccino in the world!” he said. “It has been a wonderful ten years and there will be plenty of emotions amongst my team and myself - both from sadness of saying goodbye and ... maybe some relief as well! Change is good and I wish Sanitarium and my team all the very best and great success ahead.”

Van Heerden says that he has no immediate plans for what he might do next, but will be taking some annual and long service leave to give him time to consider his next move either in New Zealand or abroad.

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