New Ridley boss takes razor to jobs in $5m restructure

Ridley boss cuts jobs, foreshadows more feed mill changes

Agribusiness
Ridley Corporation's East Bendigo feed mill, earmarked for "rationalisation".

Ridley Corporation's East Bendigo feed mill, earmarked for "rationalisation".

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Ridley Corporation plans more cuts as it prepares to open new Bendigo district feed mill

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Australia's biggest stockfeed processor, Ridley Corporation, has flagged more milling rationalisation as it prepares to open its big new Bendigo district feed mill in Victoria next year.

The company has also begun a $5 million cost saving "restructure", pruning workforce numbers and management layers across the business during November.

The exact number of job cuts has not yet been specified, but would be "significant" according to managing director, Quinton Hildebrand.

The livestock and aquaculture feed specialist was aiming for a "leaner, simplified and flatter reporting structure", which would cost about $3m in redundancy and organisational changes.

Ridley wants to ramp up domestic market growth and has told staff and shareholders it needs a competitive cost structure from which it can leverage its Ridley's nutritional expertise and product know-how.

Ridley Agriproducts brands include Rumevite and Barastoc animal feeds, Cobber dog food and the Primo and Novacq lines for the commercial aquaculture industry.

More proactive focus

The company's organisational changes would focus on improving responsiveness to, and alignment with customer needs, "facilitating a more proactive relationship with our customers".

Last month Ridley announced the sudden closure of one of its two South Australian stockfeed mills, the heritage-listed site in Murray Bridge, which employed 13 staff.

It has now flagged cuts to milling operations in Victoria after the new 500,000 tonne capacity Wellsford plant, north of Bendigo, opens in the first half of next year.

To maintain our customer value proposition and facilitate growth in all our markets it is essential to have a competitive cost structure - Gary Weiss, Ridley Corporation

Ridley already has a mill at East Bendigo which it confirmed last year had reached its 160,000t capacity and was unable to be expanded because of the regional city's growth around the site.

The new $50 million Wellsford mill will supply expanding markets in central and northern Victoria, particularly poultry and pig producers.

The plant will be twice the size of another $22m plant Ridley opened at Lara outside Geelong in 2017 servicing the ruminant livestock market.

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It also built a new ruminant feed mill at Packenham in Victoria's western Gipplsand in 2012 for the dairy market.

Victoria is a production stronghold for Ridley's Agriproducts division with nine of its 19 processing plants in the state, including a meat Melbourn rendering plant acquired in 2013.

Its Wellsford mill is due to be commissioned between March and June.

New broom sweeps in

Mr Hildebrand, who joined the company just three months ago with instructions to improve efficiency, said rationalisation of existing capacity after the new mill was operating would cost the company about $6m in mostly non-cash asset impairment and write downs.

He was also budgeting on about $6.1m in restructuring costs associated with the Murray Bridge closure, although that move would also achieve would save about $1.5m in annual costs.

He said the staffing structure across the company would remove a number of layers in certain parts of the organisation and provide clear lines of accountability.

Company chairman, Gary Weiss, said the restructure was "an important step towards meeting the board's objectives".

"In order to maintain our customer value proposition and facilitate growth in all our markets it is essential to have a competitive cost structure," he said.

"We have charged our new chief executive officer with responsibility to focus Ridley on its domestic growth plans, leverage its state of the art facilities and accelerate the commercialisation of its Novacaq franchise internationally."

Novacq is a high performance prawn feed, originally developed by CSIRO, to help producers grow bigger prawns sustainably, faster and more cost effectively.

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The story New Ridley boss takes razor to jobs in $5m restructure first appeared on Farm Online.

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