O’Donnell set to exit the role in March 2025 an international search for his replacement is underway 

Rockit Global chairman John Loughlin has announced that chief executive, Mark O’Donnell will retire from 31 March 2025. An international search will commence to find a replacement with the successor expected to step into the role around the 2025 harvest and the early sales season for that crop.   

01-Rockit-Mark O'Donnell

Rockit CEO Mark O’Donnell

O’Donnell joined Rockit in January 2021 on what was intended to be a three-year assignment to take the rapidly growing, branded miniature apple company through its next growth stages, according to Rockit. He planned, with the approval of the board, to move on to a professional governance career in early 2024 but extended this following the devastating impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle. 

John Loughlin noted that the Rockit business had taken massive strides forward under O’Donnell’s leadership.  

“The company has progressed hugely during Mark’s tenure. Rockit export apple sales revenues have grown from NZ$55m to NZ$150m, planted areas in New Zealand have been expanded from 470ha to 688ha, the in-market sales and marketing teams have grown from three people to 18 people and unprompted consumer brand awareness in key markets has lifted from 3 per cent to 29 per cent. Importantly, brand sentiment sits at a very high 88 per cent,” said Loughlin. 

Highlights of O’Donnell’s tenure also include the significant work in rebranding the company and the recognition achieved for this, including receiving the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business awards. 

O’Donnell said it had been a special privilege to lead a business that operates a value chain from orchards mainly in New Zealand, to consumers around the world.  

“The strong consumer focus reflects an aspiration that only Zespri seems to have achieved in scale from New Zealand,” he said.  

“In my time at Rockit we have achieved massive growth. This is typified in that one of my first responsibilities was to commission a new packhouse facility that we have now outgrown with two additional offsite packing operations working this year. We have expanded growing into the Gisborne and Canterbury regions. We have built a management team with deep capability and professionalism. All this has been achieved in an environment with the global pandemic, a devastating cyclone and all the vagaries of horticultural production seasons.” 

O’Donnell shared that the breadth of the role and its supply chain complexity called on all the skills he had developed throughout his long executive career. 

“I’ve really enjoyed the role, the people and the challenges, especially those relating to the fast-paced growth and the global consumer focus” he said. 

O’Donnell will remain available after his retirement to assist Rockit as required.   

“The Rockit business continues to have massive potential, and the enabling steps for the next phases of growth were put in place under Mark’s leadership,” Loughlin concluded.