Fonterra has named Dutchman Theo Spierings as its new chief executive officer.
Spierings, led the Dutch farmer dairy co-operative Royal Friesland Foods into a merger with Campina in 2008, and currently owns and runs his own company in the Netherlands focusing on corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions in "fast moving" consumer goods. The 46-year old will succeed departing CEO Andrew Ferrier, a Canadian, on September 26. Ferrier has been in the role eight years after replacing Craig Norgate.
Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said Spierings would bring 25 years of knowledge of the global dairy industry to the dairy co-operative.
“Spierings has a wealth of experience in managing dairy businesses across Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” van der Heyden said.
“Most importantly, Spierings has an in-built respect for the co-operative structure and for farmers and their commitment to co-operative principles. He is well recognised by his peers for his people leadership, delivery of results and strong strategic skills.”
Spierings was acting CEO of Royal Friesland Foods where he oversaw its "complex and highly sensitive" merger with Campina. He left after the merger was completed because both parties agreed on an independent CEO, van der Heyden said.
He added that Spierings had also held a variety of general management, operations and supply chain and sales and marketing positions across a number of geographies. Whilst Spierings himself said the Fonterra job was a great opportunity, working in the industry he loved.
"The Fonterra Board, Andrew Ferrier and his team have established a strong foundation and my challenge is to build an even more successful global dairy co-operative," Spierings said.
Fonterra's statement said he was familiar with both Fonterra and its key people and had "great respect" for the foresight New Zealand farmers had shown in creating Fonterra in the first place.
“A huge amount has been achieved in the past 10 years since Fonterra was established. Trading Among Farmers - the newly approved capital structure - is a good example. But what makes Fonterra really unique is its combination of low-cost pasture based farming and its status as the world’s largest milk processor," said Spierings.
The challenge would be "add another layer of value" across the business.
“I am used to working for farmers and I know they demand results. Being entrepreneurs themselves, they expect continuous improved performance of both their co-operative and through-out the value chain," Spierings said.
”I am acutely aware of Fonterra’s importance to the New Zealand economy and look forward to leading an organisation that has the potential to have such a positive impact on its home country. I thrive on the prospect of contributing to Fonterra’s continued success, which I know is of great importance to not only its farmers and employees, but to every New Zealander.”
He holds a Bachelor of Arts-degree in Food Technology/Biotechnology and a Masters in Business Administration. He is married with three children.
Meanwhile, van der Heyden said 2011 would be a record financial year for Fonterra and it was appropriate for Ferrier to announce last year’s financial results before handing the reins over to Spierings.