The Board and Area Representatives of First Milk have jointly agreed proposals to fundamentally change the governance of the co-operative. The aim of the changes will be to create a smaller Board with appropriate commercial skills, knowledge and experience while establishing a new Council body to oversee the strategy of the business and represent the farmer owners. The proposals are consistent with the recommendations of the independent Greenburn Associates Review whose findings were shared with members last week.
The new structure will be put to members for approval over the coming weeks.
First Milk's chairman, Sir Jim Paice, commented,
"The Board and Area Representatives believe that these proposals will significantly strengthen the governance of First Milk and make the business more robust for the future. We had already commenced improvements to our governance while the proposals were being developed, with the appointment of Brian Mackie and most recently Carl Ravenhall to the Board strengthening our financial and commercial expertise."
Chief executive Mike Gallacher added,
"Establishing a new Board structure with significant commercial experience will ensure that the cooperative avoids some of the pitfalls of recent years and hence can provide the best possible return to farmer members. This change continues the pace of transformation at First Milk which has included the setting up of business units within the group, significant restructuring, a step improvement in the financial transparency of the business and a drive to focus on our core cheese and liquid contracts businesses.
"Concurrently the Board have concluded a full strategic review which is now being implemented. Dairy remains a tough category but I am confident that the rapid pace of change will create a business that will deliver for our members, our customers and business partners. "
Proposed Board changes
The composition of the Board of directors will be an independent commercial chairman, two external commercial non-executive directors, two farmer directors and the CEO and COO, reducing the Board to 7 from 9. Currently the Board comprises of an independent chairman, another non-executive director, five farmer directors and two executive directors.
Proposed new Council
The Area Representatives group will be replaced by a seven member Council. The Council will also have an independent chair with commercial experience to ensure that it is able to hold the Board to account. Currently, there are 13 Area Representatives representing milkfields across Britain.