31 Jan 2013

Sanford chief executive retires

6:57 am on 31 January 2013

Sanford chief executive Eric Barratt is retiring after 15 years running the fishing company.

At the fishing company's annual meeting in Auckland on Wednesday afternoon, shareholders heard Mr Barratt will step down in December, giving the company time to do an international search for a replacement.

Mr Barratt said when he began in the role 15 years ago the company relied for its profitability on one or two species, such as orange roughy.

Now Sanford is more profitable across its whole range of species, and his particular focus has been on aquaculture.

Mr Barratt says the biggest challenge has been to get stability in the marketplace and that has been achieved over the last couple of years by getting the company to a certain size.

"We don't say we're a price maker, but our ability to hold the price means that other people will follow us."

He says Sanford is working with the Government, trialling secret new technology that will significantly change the way fish is caught and marketed.

Mr Barratt says Sanford is looking to move to commercial trials of the equipment this year which is more quickly than intended because of the success of its research trials.

He says the fish are caught a different way that substantially improves their quality.

Sanford's shares fell 5 cents to $4.35 on Wednesday.