Staff reductions cut deep through MLA domestic marketing, trade support ranks

Jon Condon, 12/09/2014

ANOTHER round of retrenchments within Meat & Livestock Australia’s staff ranks has been announced overnight, as part of an internal restructure and cost-cutting effort announced earlier by managing director Richard Norton.

Lachlan Bowtell

Lachlan Bowtell

Eight staff are involved in the latest round of cuts, all from within the domestic marketing and trade support ranks. They include Australia regional manager, Lachlan Bowtell, plus state marketing program managers positions for South Australia, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

Also departing are MLA’s trade marketing manager, Stephen Pocock, the food service marketing manager and nutrition executive.

Incumbents in those positions – Brett Atkinson, Matthew Carmody, Gary McPherson, Michael Tan, Claire Tindale-Penning and Michelle McCracken – are currently working through their options, staff were informed last night.

Regional manager, Australia, Lachlan Bowtell will leave a huge void, as he is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable manager with excellent presentation skills. His professional background as a chef meant he was able to ‘walk the walk’ with food service and retail operators in myriad issues from cuts utilisation to improving yields, and was able to telegraph key consumer messages to producer audiences with considerable skill.

He previously served for three years as MLA’s Middle East region manager, during a distinguished 20-year industry career with MLA and its predecessor, AMLC.  As ME regional manager he oversaw huge growth in the region and made key strategic decisions that are continuing to pay dividends to the industry today. He also served key roles in national operations, trade marketing and key account management.

Stephen Pocock has also served 20 years with the producer company in roles such as state retail in Victoria, business development manager in North America and of late, developed the successful “Retail value-adding: beefing and racking up your profits” programs to butchers and the rebrand and development of the Australian Butchers Guild.

He also held key national account management roles while managing all the state-based business development programs.

The Australian domestic market will no longer be supported by a regional manager under the new structure.

The latest heavy level of staff loss in the domestic market operations space must now throw into question how MLA will effectively manage marketing and promotion, in its single largest red meat market. The domestic market appears to have suffered as a result of being seen as a ‘mature’ market, with lesser growth prospects than export alternatives.

“While Australia remains the red meat industry’s number one market for both beef and lamb, greater opportunities for growth lie in our international markets,” staff were told yesterday. “As a result MLA has decided to streamline its investment in the domestic market.”

“Given this direction, and following an assessment of the domestic marketing function under the full efficiency and effectiveness review, these positions will no longer be required within the domestic marketing team.”

The latest round brings to 12 the number of MLA personnel who will leave the company as part of recent cost-cutting measures. Earlier it was suggested around industry circles that 20 to 25 positions might be at risk under the cost-reduction effort.

As outlined in this earlier Beef Central article, MLA is undergoing significant change in order to deliver greater value to levy payers, and is being forced to cut its cloth to reflect declining levy revenue.

The service delivery company recently announced a rationalisation plan, including focusing on fewer, but larger activities that have more impact.




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  1. Rachel Vermey, 18/09/2014

    Small independant butchers will really miss the fantastic support we have received from MLA reps, like Michael Tan.

  2. Jon Condon, 14/09/2014

    Point of clarification, John. The reference to declining levy revenue is clearly a pre-emptive strike, not related to the current high rate of beef kill, but what lies ahead, as a result of the massive sell-down of breeders that has happened over the past 12 months.

  3. John Michelmore, 13/09/2014

    Cuts “reflect declining levy revenue.” One would have thought with meat exports booming , cow slaughter at an all time high and live export returning that levy revenue was also at an all time high. Has anyone asked the question and done the sums on cattle/sheep sold compared to levy revenue , it looks as though something does not add up here. Is everyone sure all that money collected by the levies collection unit sees “the light of day?”
    Of course I also agree with John Carpenter.
    Looks as though we will get some of the marketing proportion of the levy ,that wasn’t working, back as a rebate; same as the carbon tax!! Lets face it red meat sales have been falling for years in Australia and the marketing levy has achieved nothing in farm gate profitability and live prices, whether for slaughter or live export.

  4. john carpenter, 13/09/2014

    Finally,at the 11th hour, MLA has woken up to the fact that domestic marketing has been a waste of levy payer money.

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