The winds of change continue to blow through the JBS Australia operations, following the surprise announcement last week that chief executive officer Iain Mars is to return to Brazil to work in the company’s South American business.
Beef Central has learned that separate chief operating officers have been appointed in the new northern and southern divisions created late last year.
As mentioned in last week’s report, the over-arching chief executive officer across the entire Australian business will be Andre Nogueira, previously chief financial officer with the JBS US division.
Mr Nogueira is a long-term employee of JBS in financial and capital raising roles, after an earlier career in banking, and is understood to be close to the Batista family. He has already arrived in Australia and a management transition has begun.
The North/South regional separation makes sense, industry stakeholders assessing the development say, as apart from some grainfed cattle from southern regions moving north for processing, the two regions largely operate independently in terms of grass and grainfed cattle supply.
Appointed as chief operating officer of the northern division (encompassing Beef City, Dinmore, Rockhampton and Townsville plants, and understood to include all Australian feedlot operations) is highly-regarded Brent Eastwood, who has spent much of the past four years in senior management positions within JBS’s US operations.
A New Zealander by birth, Mr Eastwood cut his teeth pushing beef around chillers across the Tasman before joining the Australia Meat Holdings ranks, where he made a name for himself as a talented, market-savvy domestic meat trader through Swift Trade Group and DR Johnston wholesale divisions.
After his transfer to JBS’s operations in the US, he quickly rose through the ranks to become head of the International Trade Group. He then headed up the critically important JBS US domestic sales and marketing team, and most recently assumed responsibility for JBS Logistics (trucking division) in the US.
Mr Eastwood was rumoured to be returning to a senior role in the Australian operations last year, but despite returning for a short period, that did not eventuate.
New COO for southern Australia
Appointed as the new COO of the JBS southern Australian division (Riverina, NSW; Cobram, Bordertown, Brooklyn, Vic; King Island, Devonport and Longford, Tas plants) is Sam McConnell.
Originally a wool trader, Mr McConnell learned the meat trade in Melbourne, working in the AMH and later Swift trade group. He comes well regarded by contacts within the Melbourne meat trade community.
He later transferred to the US where he set up and ran an export office in the US for JBS Australia. He then moved to a role managing JBS’s overall export offices. It is unclear whether his new southern Australian COO role he will encompass JBS’s lamb business, as well as southern beef.
While both Messrs McConnell and Eastwood have highly regarded skills in the sales and marketing fields and have been deeply entrenched in the beef industry for considerable periods, they have yet to prove themselves in overall business management roles. Their appointments will be watched with considerable interest.
Late last year JBS Australia reconfigured its processing operational structure, dividing the overall business into three operating units for Northern and Southern Australian Beef, and Smallstock (lamb, sheep and goatmeat) (see Beef Central’s report here).
Then-CEO Iain Mars said the creation of the three business units would provide more focus to each, but the move did not represent any change in the way the overall JBS Australia business was run.
Appointed in December as COO of the new JBS Smallstock division was Jim Goodall, an expatriate New Zealander who previously worked with NZ sheepmeat processor, Te Kuiti Meat Processors, operator of two lamb plants in the Waikato region of the North Island.
Separate buying teams operate for the northern and southern beef networks in the slaughter cattle market, with some crossover, south-to-north, in the feeder cattle segment.
The JBS feedlots themselves, regardless of location, continue to report under the Northern Beef division, the company advised in December.
Livestock suppliers to JBS are unlikely to see any significant difference in the way the company does business.