21 Oct 2011

Goodman Fielder to merge baking, dairy units

5:14 am on 21 October 2011

Goodman Fielder is to merge its New Zealand businesses.

The Australasian food group, whose brands in New Zealand include Meadowlea, Vogels and Edmonds, expects the move to significantly cut costs.

New chief executive, Chris Delaney, vowed to turn the company around after it lost $A167 million in the year to the end of June, compared with a profit of $A161 million a year earlier.

Mr Delaney says Goodman Fielder is one of the biggest suppliers to the retail grocery trade in New Zealand, but has been operating as three separate companies.

He's decided to merge the baking, dairy and home ingredients businesses in New Zealand.

Mr Delaney says the move will significantly reduce operating costs, and improve interaction between suppliers and customers.

The new combined unit, with retail operations worth $NZ1 billion, will be headed by Peter Reidie, who previously managed the company's dairy and meats division in New Zealand.

Mr Reidie says the company's been talking with suppliers and customers about ways to improve the business and the feedback has been that Goodman Fielder has been difficult to deal with.

He says because the company's had three different divisions customers were being visited three times instead of once and they said that there is no single entity to make a decision.

Mr Reidie says the recommendation has come through that the company would be better off as one, which is what it's putting in place.

He says the merger of the entities is well underway and staff changes will be in place by 1 November.

Mr Reidie says the objective is around effectiveness rather than efficiency and making the company closer to the consumer and customer.

Goodman Fielder's shares have fallen 1 cent to 67 cents.