Andrew Keaney has resigned from his role as managing director of T&G Fresh, the New Zealand domestic business of T&G Global, 12 months on from the group's acquisition of Freshmax New Zealand.
Keaney, who has headed up T&G Global’s domestic business for the past eight years, will leave the company on 21 May.
Chief executive of T&G Global Gareth Edgecombe, who has taken over as acting managing director while a successor is found, hailed the role Keaney had played in the evolution of the group’s domestic business.
“In his eight years with T&G, Andrew has built a remarkable legacy and made a lasting impact on our business,” said Edgecombe.
“With his strong authentic leadership, industry knowledge and passion, our New Zealand business has evolved and grown, as recently demonstrated with the successful acquisition and integration of Freshmax (New Zealand).
“Having delivered the first phase of the transformation of the T&G Fresh business, Andrew has made the decision to step back after the challenges of the past few years.”
“Andrew will continue to provide support to T&G Fresh for the remainder of 2021, working directly with me as we progress some of our strategic plans.”
T&G Global acquired Freshmax New Zealand in April 2020 to form T&G Fresh, and Keaney has managed the integration of the two businesses - no easy feat during the Covid-19 pandemic, but Edgecombe told Produce Plus that T&G Fresh was “probably only half way through its transformation”.
“Heading up our domestic business is a very demanding and complex role. After eight years in the role and seeing the Freshmax integration through successfully, Andrew decided it was a good time for him to hand over the baton to someone with the energy to carry through our strategy over the next three or four years.”
Edgecombe said a formal recruitment process for Keaney’s successor had started, and he was hopeful that a new managing director could be appointed within three to six months.
While Keaney’s departure might raise some questions over the integration of the T&G Global and Freshmax New Zealand businesses, Edgecombe said the process had progressed very smoothly.
“We’re really pleased with how well it’s gone," he noted. "There’s been a big integration of finance, logistics, IT, market sites and of course our teams. Many of the team from Freshmax have gone into key roles and they’re doing a fantastic job.’
Moving forward, he said the T&G Fresh strategy represented a “big transformation” that was “still in the making.”
“T&G Fresh is a traditional ‘markets’ business, and the markets are transforming. Our strategy is to optimise [the role of] the 12 New Zealand ‘markets’ around independents, food service and online shopping, knowing that the business that used to go through supermarkets is going more and more direct.
“At the same time, we want to turn T&G [Fresh] into a vertical player on the New Zealand scene. We’ll focus on a few categories where T&G can do a really good job end-to-end, such as apples, tomatoes, root crops, berries and citrus.
"Depending on the category, we’re looking at where we can bring in innovation and add value to create relevance with retailers and consumers. That does not necessarily mean T&G being 100 per cent growers; it might be having a network of superior genetics. It’s a case of finding out how we can add value.”