Synlait gets new CEO from Fonterra

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Leon Clement is the new CEO of Synlait.
Leon Clement is the new CEO of Synlait.
New Zealand’s Synlait Milk has appointed Leon Clement as chief executive officer from mid-August.

The appointment is the outcome of a global recruitment search undertaken following co-founder and inaugural CEO John Penno’s announcement in November 2017 of his intention to stand down.

Clement was Fonterra’s managing director of Fonterra Brands New Zealand and prior to that was the company’s managing director of Sri Lanka and Indian Subcontinent.

“Leon has led major businesses internationally, specifically in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and has deep experience in the branded dairy sector,”​ said Graeme Milne, Synlait chairman.

Clement said he was excited to join Synlait at what he called a “pivotal time.”

“The business is in fantastic shape and we will continue to target sustainable growth by leveraging the potential within our organisation, as well as the potential in the markets and customers we partner with,”​ Clement said.

Milne said Synlait is in a fortunate position to make an orderly leadership transition as it  has the full support of Penno, who will continue in a governance role from August. 

Along with Ben Dingle and Juliet Maclean, Penno cofounded the Synlait Group in 2000 and the Synlait Milk manufacturing business was founded in 2006, with operations beginning in 2008.

New plant

Synlait has also confirmed its new nutritional manufacturing site in Pokeno, Waikato, will be commissioned for the 2019/2020 season. 

The functionality of Synlait’s first nutritional spray dryer at Pokeno has also been expanded as a result of forecast customer demand.

The nutritional spray dryer will be capable of producing a full suite of nutritional, formulated powders (including infant-grade skim milk, whole milk and infant formula base powders) and the capacity has increased to 45,000 metric tonnes (MT) from an initial 40,000 MT.

The initial capital investment is estimated at NZ$250m (US$172m), excluding the land previously acquired.

Initially, Synlait Pokeno will produce infant-grade ingredients while regulatory registration is obtained for infant formula base powder production.

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