Sealord boss to step down

MICHAEL FIELD AND ROELAND VAN DEN BERGH
Last updated 12:42 27/03/2014
Graham Stuart
KENT BLECHYNDEN/ Fairfax NZ
TOUGH CALL: Sealord chief executive Graham Stuart is on the road explaining to shareholders why there is no dividend this year.

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Maori co-owned fishing company Sealord has confirmed its chief executive, Graham Stuart, is leaving the company.

His move comes after the Nelson-based company posted a heavy $36.5 million loss in the 2013 financial year, its first loss in 20 years. It was the result of a failed fishing venture in Argentina.

In a statement Sealord said Stuart's departure was announced after a briefing to iwi where Sealord reported performance well ahead of plan at the year's halfway mark and expectations of delivering a strong profit and dividend for the 2014 financial year.

"I've always been firmly of the view that companies like Sealord do better when they are every so often rejuvenated by new direction from the top," Stuart said.

"Last year was Sealord's most difficult in its recent history; the exit from Argentina was exceptionally tough and came at a time when fishing was not good and adverse exchange rates had an impact."

Undercurrent News, a fishing trade website, says Stuart sent an email to Sealord staff saying he would go in September or earlier if a replacement were found.

"To those of you who know me it should come as no surprise that later this year I will leave Sealord to, as the cliche goes, 'pursue new challenges'," Stuart told staff, according to Undercurrent.

"I say cliche because I'm not sure yet what exactly those challenges will be and it is hard for me to give too much consideration to what I want to do next when I'm still absolutely committed to seeing Sealord through this financial year," he wrote.

Undercurrent sources said the move was also announced on Tuesday at the annual meeting of Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd (AFL), a holding for Maori seafood interests. AFL holds 50 per cent of Kura, a holding that controls Sealord. Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui) holds the other 50 per cent.

Stuart joined Sealord from Fonterra in 2007.

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- Fairfax Media

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