Outlook positive - chairman

Last updated 13:00 02/06/2012

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An upturn in confidence is emerging, says Nelson agribusiness stalwart John McCliskie, who has been appointed chairman of BNZ Partners Top of the South.

Mr McCliskie said he was looking forward to adding value to the bank, in a time when fruit growers were doing it tough to be successful, profitable businesses.

"One of the bigger problems in these industries is the value of the NZ dollar doesn't represent our productivity. Because of its high value in overseas markets, a number of farmers I know have been working hard on improving efficiencies only for the currency to move overnight and undo all that good work," he said.

The Top of the South economy was influenced by primary production, both agriculture and horticulture based, while fishing and forestry are also a big part. All sectors, including tourism, have been affected in recent years by the external factors that are also affecting the whole of New Zealand, he said.

However, Mr McCliskie sees opportunities for the region, and said he looked forward to becoming involved with local businesses in the new chairman position.

"People are returning to the South Island after the earthquake, and we're beginning to see an upturn in confidence and the housing market in Nelson. We also have the rise of aquaculture and other sectors to get excited about in the region."

The chairman programme is a first in the New Zealand banking industry and unique to BNZ, where business and industry leaders are recruited to each Business Centre to give its managing partner support and provide market experience.

BNZ managing partner Top of the South Natasha Osmond-Dreyer said Mr McCliskie was the first person she thought of for the position and he was well-respected and well-connected in the local business community.

"In terms of experience he has and still currently sits on a number of boards which brings in elements of governance thinking and experience.

"John will be able to provide mentoring to myself and the BNZ Top of the South team, something we're all looking forward to."

Existing chairpeople from throughout the country include John Bongard, Gary Monk, Bob Harvey, Greg Gent, Dame Susan Devoy, John Newland, Trevor Croy, Joe La Grouw, Mike Pohio and Philip Aldridge.

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