Thursday, December 7, 2023

Wools NZ elects new chairman

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Former Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parson has been elected chairman of Wools NZ to lead the organisation in a new direction post covid-19.
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The recognised industry leader, well known for his past chairmanship of Beef and Lamb NZ and the NZ Meat Board, Parsons was initially elected to the board by growers at the organisation’s annual meeting in November.    

The grower-owned strong wool marketing and export company has now embarked on a new era post covid-19 to re-orientate its strategic direction.

Parsons, a Northland sheep and beef farmer believes he well understands the industry challenges from a grassroots perspective.

The board has confidence Parsons has the discipline and skills to support large scale negotiations and partnerships necessary to drive collaborative change in the wool supply chain. 

He takes up the leadership role from interim chairwoman Rebecca Smith who while stepping down from the chair, remains on the board as a director.

During her time as chairwoman Smith led the organisation through a considerable period of change necessary to reset the skills and capability for growth in the current team.

This included the appointment of new chief executive John McWhirter in February. 

McWhirter is a highly experienced chief executive who brings experience in building supply chains, products, brands and developing strong consumer loyalty to the organisation.

During his career he has led Hellers Limited, a multimillion-dollar company located in Australia and NZ with previous roles also including positions with PGG Wrightson, Tegel and Mars Inc. 

“The Board recognised specific skills John (McWhirter) had in turning primary produce into consumer goods,” Parsons said. 

“Strong wool prices have been through a period of decline for the last two decades and covid-19 has seen prices crash to an all-time low.”

Adding Wools NZ research shows the price that the consumer pays has not changed and woollen products are still considered premium products by many.

“We recognise that the current state of the industry is unsustainable at current price levels and Wools NZ is well placed with international representatives and strong partnerships in the market,” he said.

The board of Wools NZ comprises chairman James Parsons and directors Craig Hickson, Ian Marshall and Rebecca Smith. 

Directors who have vacated their positions this year include Mark Shadbolt and Lucy Griffiths.

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