AuctionsPlus boss Anna Speer joins AACo

AACo nets AuctionsPlus' Anna Speer as operations boss


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AuctionsPlus chief executive officer, Anna Speer.

AuctionsPlus chief executive officer, Anna Speer.

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Australian Agricultural Company has recruited AuctionsPlus chief executive officer, Anna Speer, and Salvation Army chief financial officer, Nigel Simonsz, to its ranks

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Big beef business, Australian Agricultural Company, has made another high profile appointment, luring AuctionsPlus boss, Anna Speer, to its ranks as chief operating officer for pastoral activities.

Ms Speer, who has overseen a significant growth in the online livestock auction business in the past three and a half years, will move to AACo’s Brisbane headquarters in August.

Also joining AACo in August will be new chief financial officer, Nigel Simonsz, who is currently CFO with The Salvation Army.

He was previously the Australian and New Zealand chief executive officer with consumer products company, PZ Cussons.

Anna brings deep expertise from one of agriculture’s most disruptive marketplaces - Hugh Killen, AACo

Ms Speer’s new role will include responsibility for strategy and leading AACo’s pastoral operations, feedlots, southern processing and breeding activities.

AACo has 21 pastoral stations and farms spanning 7 million hectares in Queensland and the Northern Territory – an area covering roughly one per cent of Australia.

Chief executive officer, Hugh Killen, himself a recent recruit to AACo after a career in international banking, said Ms Speer and Mr Simonsz would bring skills and capabilities closely aligned to AACo’s strategy agenda.

“Anna brings deep expertise from one of agriculture’s most disruptive marketplaces, and I am tremendously confident in the leadership she will provide across key areas of AACo’s supply chain,” he said.

She was a trusted leader with a track record of consistently delivering results and was “uniquely qualified to align AACo’s unique integrated supply chain and investment in leading technology with industry-leading operational practices”.

He said she would help drive and extend AACo’s unique ability to produce the highest-quality beef at scale.

Valued experience

Mr Killen, who took the helm at AACo in February, said Mr Simonsz’ significant industry experience, management and financial skills would also be of great value to AACo’s agenda.

Mr Simonsz worked with BHP and General Mills before joining PZ Cussons, the business behind consumer food brands five:am and Rafferty’s Garden, and cleaning product brands Morning Fresh and Radiant, and Imperial Leather soap, among others.

“Nigel will be responsible for lifting our financial acumen and driving clearer accountability for business performance, enhancing commercial decision-making through real time financial information,” Mr Killen said.

The new CFO would also improve the clarity and consistency of the information AACo captured as part of the company’s commitment “openness and accuracy in how we report on our business and financial performance”.

AACo announces its 2017-18 trading results on Wednesday.

Other recent changes at the business have included Chinese market specialist, Jessica Rudd, joining the board of directors late last year and the unexpected departure of former CEO, Jason Strong who is now CEO at Smithfield Cattle Company.

Ms Rudd – daughter of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – is founder and managing director of online business Jessica’s Suitcase.

AuctionsPlus growth spurt

At AuctionsPlus Ms Speer’s job will be advertised externally and within the company, which has grown from a staff of just eight to 23 in her time as chief executive officer.

Revenue in that period, based on forecasts to June 2018, has grown 61pc and operating profit has increased 51pc.

The electronic marketing business, jointly owned by big farm services companies Elders, Ruralco and Landmark, handles more than $830 million in livestock sales a year.

Chairman, and Elders managing director, Mark Allison, thanked Ms Speer for her hard work and dedication during her tenure at AuctionsPlus.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a leading organisation that continues to reshape the livestock sector and lead with best practise - Anna Speer, AuctionsPlus

“Anna will be working with the board to ensure a smooth transition for the company and our customers,” he said.

Ms Speer, who joined AuctionsPlus in late 2014 having previously worked at Livestock Exchange and with Consolidated Pastoral Company, said she had deliberated for some time about moving from a role she “thoroughly enjoyed”.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a leading organisation that continues to reshape the livestock sector and lead with best practice,” she said.

“The team here is so stable and the culture second to none, as are the customers I have worked with.

“It was an extremely tough decision to make and thank the board for the support and guidance that has allowed me to grow and step into my next role.”

AuctionsPlus traded 436,700 commercial cattle in 2016-17 and expects to end 2017-18 with a throughput of about 375,000, while sheep numbers last year were 2.6m and are headed for 2.76m this financial year.

The company also operated 230 special on-farm sales this year, an increase of 87pc over the past four years.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have walked into AuctionsPlus just as the cattle market started to make its run,”  Ms Speer said. 

“AuctionsPlus is set for ongoing growth and I will be watching closely from the sidelines.”

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