Shaken A2 Milk revamps business teams, concludes NZ purchase

Shaken A2 Milk revamps business teams

Dairy
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A2 Milk Company pushes ahead with a top end business restructure after being savaged by a sales slump and share price collapse.

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It's been a busy month for trans-Tasman specialist dairy and nutritional powder player A2 Milk Company as it frantically tries to shake off a share market battering and sales slump which have savaged its once high-flying share price in the past year.

A year ago A2 Milk shares were worth about $20 each but have now become the worst performers on the ASX200 this year, worth just $6.

To help it re-boot, A2 has restructured its business into three units following the recent resignation of Asia Pacific chief executive Peter Nathan.

Shanghai-based Greater China chief executive, Xiao Li, takes responsibility for Chinese labelled infant milk formula and other Chinese domestic business, while newly recruited Yohan Senaratne is responsible for the company's cross border export business, primarily focused on English-labelled baby formula sold into China via cross border e-commerce channels and the daigou reseller market from Australia.

Mr Senaratne was recruited from rival nutritional formula marketer Bellamy's Organic where he was sales and marketing director and responsible for the transformational relaunch and recent revival of that brand's formula and baby food brands in China, Australia and South East Asia.

Former A2 sales director for Australia and New Zealand, Kevin Bush, has taken over as ANZ managing director, with a focus on growing the company's liquid milk business.

Danone Nutricia consumer marketing director and former senior marketer with Pepsico, Campbell Arnotts and Johnson and Son, Edith Bailey, will start as A2's chief marketing officer later this year.

Her role is being filled in the meantime by A2's group marketing head Janell Tong.

The A2 Milk Company has had a challenging time in its once booming China trade.

In May it wrote off about $90 million in unsold nutritional powder stocks and warned of a significant decline in its revenue because its lucrative Chinese market had changed so quickly when coronavirus hit its market base last year.

A key factor has been the collapsed daigou customer channel which had directed big volumes of infant formula, sourced in Australia by tourists and expatriate Chinese, to be resold back home to friends and family.

Managing director David Bortolussi said it was essential to continue to invest in and strengthen the A2 brand.

He was pleased to be able to attract the sort of talent available in Mr Senaratne and Ms Bailey and elevate two of the company's high potential leaders to directly report to him.

David Bortolussi

David Bortolussi

Mr Bortolussi was confident A2 Milk would return to growth in its core business and capture new opportunities through innovation and new product development.

He also announced A2 would be appointing human resources head with Dyson Appliances in Australia and NZ, Amanda Hart, as its new chief people and culture officer in September

"Amanda is a highly capable people and culture leader with extensive consumer industry experience with innovative brands... she is passionate about leadership development and employee experience."

Meanwhile, the Australian and NZ-listed dairy business is this week completing its purchase of a 75 per cent stake in the Mataura Valley Milk dairy nutritional powder business in Southland NZ from the China Animal Husbandry Group, which retains a 25pc stake.

The Chinese company is already a close ally of A2 in its homeland where its subsidiary, China State Farm, distributes A2 products to retailers.

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