Zespri chief Tim Goodacre has announced his departure in March next year, after a four-year term leading the company.

Goodacre, 52, who is leaving to pursue a new corporate role before retirement, was praised for his performance as ceo, during which the company achieved record returns.

Chairman Craig Greenlees said Goodacre had strengthened industry and company integration during his leadership and had helped re-established the confidence of growers and shareholders in the company.

“Tim has now achieved commercial integration within the company, aligning the board and executive behind our new strategic objectives which are to be rolled out to staff and grower/shareholders shortly,” he said. “We are now in an excellent position to move ahead and achieve greater and more-sustainable success in the international marketplace.”

Goodacre will stay on as chief until March in order to help launch the new strategic objectives. He said he felt the company was ready to move to the next level of performance and was proud to have built the platform over the last few years to make that possible: “The roll out of our corporate objectives over the next eight months will be an exciting time for Zespri but embedding them throughout the business will require at least a three-year commitment,” he said. “I have other aspirations that I would like to pursue within that timeframe.

“It is very important to me to thank the Zespri team worldwide for their commitment and hard work over the last few years. I have every confidence in our people’s ability to deliver on our new strategic objectives and they now all have an opportunity to be part of a much bigger, stronger and even more successful company in the years ahead,” he said.

The company has launched a global search to find a suitable replacement