In his six years as Chairman and 10 years as a director he has seen significant changes in the company’s strategy – moving it from a traditional meat processing and trading company to a market-focused food company.
As part of the Board’s succession plan, Rob Hewett was previously appointed deputy chairman and will now take over the role of chairman at the conclusion of the 2013 Annual Meeting scheduled for 18 December 2013.
During a time of great change, as chairman, Eoin oversaw the development of a plate to pasture strategy which saw increased focus on developing the Silver Fern Farms brand and premium value added revenue streams.
The co-operative also partnered with Government through the Primary Growth Partnership to create FarmIQ in August 2010 – a seven year, $151 million investment in creating a demand-driven integrated value chain for red meat which links consumers with farmers.
Eoin Garden also oversaw a major governance restructuring which focused on delivering the skills and knowledge for a business of this size and also the transition to a new capital structure which relieved redemption risk to the co-operative.
“The timing is now right for Rob to step into this role and take Silver Fern Farms through another chapter in its growth and development,” Garden says.
“I’ve had the privilege of working for my fellow farmer shareholders and I thank them for their support, encouragement and passion for their co-operative over the past 16 years.”
Eoin was also a driver of industry reform throughout his tenure.
“We have come close to creating significant scale and efficiencies which could have changed many of the perverse dynamics and behaviours which are in the industry. In particular, the PGW deal that was appropriate at the time, but which was subsequently not completed. In recent times when pan-industry discussions have not progressed we have still not been able to move towards bringing the two co-operatives into a strong united entity. That is disappointing.
“My regret is that I took on the role as Chairman in 2008 when farmers were dissatisfied with the level of returns, and I leave at a time when the cyclical nature of the industry has delivered similar returns and further dissatisfaction, even though we have had a highly productive, albeit volatile, period in-between. Our major challenge remains the erratic returns to farmers.
“A highlight would be overseeing the creation of a strong trusted Silver Fern Farms brand which resonates with consumers around the world and with farmers alike.
“I’m particularly pleased with the progress made to have a greater focus on consumers to drive long-term sustainability of the business and future higher returns for our suppliers.”
Silver Fern Farms press release.