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Saturday 25 June 2022

Synlait CEO resigns

13th April 2021 By Staff Reporter | | @foodtickernz

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement has resigned and will leave the listed dairy company in three weeks.

Leon Clement

The board of the milk powder producer, which has faced significant headwinds from Covid-19, said Clement’s decision to step down was accepted “with regret”.

Clement would leave the business at the end of April. From 1 May, Synlait co-founder and former chief executive, John Penno, would become interim CEO.

In a statement to the NZX on Monday morning, Synlait chair Graeme Milne called Clement an authentic and transformational leader.

“He has successfully repositioned Synlait’s purpose, ambition, and strategy to make us a more diversified and sustainable company,” Milne said.

Under Clement’s leadership, Synlait had been pursuing a diversification strategy from its primary business of supplying infant formula to its cornerstone customer and shareholder A2 Milk.

This had seen it invest $150m to purchase cheese companies Talbot Forest Cheese and Dairyworks as it extended into the consumer market.

The company also grew its manufacturing sites with the development of a new factory at Pokeno and a new liquid plant at Dunsandel.

Synlait said Clement had “maintained growth momentum towards its $2bn revenue target with more than $500m of top line growth delivered, achieving more than $1bn in revenue for first time in FY19 and delivering record NPAT result of $82.2m”.

However, this was before Covid-19 disruption had a significant impact on business – mostly at the hands of A2 Milk whose channels to China and supply chains have been severely disrupted.

In its interim results last month, Synlait’s net profit has plunged 76% to $6.4m, with “significant uncertainty and volatility” forecasted to continue into the second half.

In the statement, Clement added that it had been a privilege to lead Synlait: “It has been an intensive period of change and growth and I am proud of our achievements.”

Synlait said recruitment to replace Clement, who joined the Dunsandel-headquartered group from Fonterra in 2018, is set to start shortly.



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