Australian Wool Innovation shareholders today have delivered a resounding vote of confidence in their industry leaders, re-electing Wal Merriman, Roger Fletcher and Chick Olsson to the board and voting to change the process of annual director elections.
All three directors had retired by rotation in accordance with the company’s constitution.
The vote in favour of changing the constitution means board elections will now take place every two years.
There were 162,475 votes received in favour of the motion and just 25,503 votes against.
The margin of 86.43 per cent in favour of the constitutional change easily surpassed the minimum 75pc vote required.
WoolProducers Australia president Don Hamblin, who had campaigned against the longer terms, told Rural Press after the meeting that the growers had spoken on the issue and that it was time to move on.
Australian Stud Merino Breeders Association president Tom Ashby said he was surprised by the level of support for the special amendment.
"It shows that growers have a lot of confidence in the board to lead them forward," Mr Ashby said.
Messrs Merriman, Fletcher and Olsson were comfortably re-elected to the AWI board.
Mr Merriman received 169,976 votes for his re-election, with just 21,056 against; Mr Olsson received 161,693 votes for and 27,731 against; and Mr Fletcher received 176,810 for and 13,820 against.
There was a smaller crowd than usual at the annual general meeting held in Sydney this morning, and the atmosphere was civil and lacking in the animosity that has been evident in previous years.
In his address to shareholders, AWI chairman Wal Merriman outlined the significant changes the organisation had made in the last 12 months.
"There has been a major overhaul of the AWI business and we are now a leaner company, run in a cost-conscious and business-like manner," he said.
"We have closely examined and changed many processes within the company to become a more efficient, accountable and performance-based organisation with reduced overhead costs."
Mr Merriman said the vote for a two per cent levy at WoolPoll was an indication of growers' confidence in wool’s future and "in the ability of a re-engineered AWI to make a difference and generate shareholder returns".
AWI chief executive Brenda McGahan told shareholders that $25 million is the budgeted cut in costs in the last 12 months to fund the company’s new marketing and sales programs.
"Our marketing is focused on wool products that are available in retail stores; products that consumers can actually go into a store and buy," she said.
"We also insist that the grower funds we invest in a marketing campaign are, at the very least, matched by our marketing partners’ own financial contribution.
"Our job is to get the world talking about wool again, and to create a preference for quality wool products – certified by the world famous Woolmark brand – products for which consumers are willing to pay a premium."
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