Restructuring at Comvita results in 23 job losses

By David Porter, Business Writer -
1 comment
Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter says job cuts have been difficult. Photo/George Novak
Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter says job cuts have been difficult. Photo/George Novak

Honey and health products company Comvita will cut 21 jobs in its Paengaroa head office and a further two jobs in Auckland as a result of its recently announced restructuring.

Chief executive Scott Coulter told the Bay of Plenty Times on Monday that a total of 23 staff roles had been disestablished, resulting in redundancies. In addition, a further 10 staff had been redeployed to new roles across the business.

"We have made changes to a lot of areas of our business," said Mr Coulter.

"We're trying to make the business run better and we have also put more grunt into the innovation space in particular."

The latest cuts will reduce the Paengaroa headcount to 169, and the New Zealand total to 307.

Mr Coulter said there had been investment in resources in the innovation area, with new roles created.

"That's about trying to diversify the business and also achieve our 2021 growth plans, which has been an important part of this change," he said.

"It's definitely not just about costs. It's about realigning the business so it can run more efficiently, so we can grow into more product areas, and to make sure we have the resources to do that. We've done a mix of things to make the business more effective in the global marketplace."

Mr Coulter said the staff cuts had been right across the business.
"Most departments were affected in some way or had some change," he said.

The job losses were understood to have affected staff from across Comvita's catchment area, which includes Paengaroa and Te Puke as well as Papamoa, Tauranga and the Mount. Although Comvita had some staff from Rotorua, Mr Coulter said he did not believe any were affected by the cuts.

The past couple of weeks of the restructuring had been difficult for staff and management, he said.

"None of us like doing this. It's like a family here. We're very close and tight-knit. But the affected staff have been incredibly professional."

Comvita would be providing full redundancy packages as well as outplacement support, Mr Coulter said. There had also been enquiries from other area businesses about hiring staff.

Company officials emphasised that the restructuring was aimed at maintaining profitability, and was about refocusing on innovation and product diversification, and adding further resources to its apiary and honey supply operations.

Comvita has also carried out a major review of its global operations in the past couple of years.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said it was sad to see people lose their jobs.

"These sorts of times are never easy for anyone," Mr Gregec said. "I'm sure Comvita will have thought long and hard about the decisions it has had to take."

Mark Boyle, managing director of the Te Puke Economic Development Group, said job losses were sometimes part of the economic cycle.

"On balance, Comvita has grown and added a significant amount of employment and value to the Te Puke community," he said.

Comvita global staffing
• Global staff: About 480
• NZ staff: 307 (330 before cuts)
• Paengaroa staff: 169 (190 before cuts)

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