Farmlands jobs could be chopped as soon as March

By Patrick O'Sullivan

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The retail store will continue to operate but all national administrative functions may go from Farmlands in Hastings. Photo/File
The retail store will continue to operate but all national administrative functions may go from Farmlands in Hastings. Photo/File

More than 40 jobs are on the line at Farmlands' former head office in Hastings, says Farmlands CEO Brent Esler.

On Friday staff were told the company was consolidating functions and many jobs may go.

Mr Esler told Hawke's Bay Today the final staffing decision was yet to be made. "We will be taking staff feedback on board and have made a commitment that by March 17 they will know what we propose to do."

He said throughout New Zealand customer service roles would increase but back office jobs would go.

The farm-supply co-operatives' members of the South Island's CRT and the North Island's Farmlands voted to merge last February.

Farmlands chairman Lachie Johnstone said the merger between CRT and Farmlands was "all about extracting value" and the board had received a clear mandate from members for the changes.

Mr Esler said members voted for the merger on the advice that there would be $38 million of net benefits, with 42 per cent of that figure coming from the elimination of duplicated systems and resources.

"There is a real expectation of the co-operative in the market that we would be the market leader of price, service and operational efficiency. That's what is driving the process." He said there were about 72 staff in Hastings and the 25 customer-services roles would be secure.

Hastings was the pre-merger Farmlands head office, which was now in Christchurch.

"It is about taking the best out of both businesses and moving forward."

A Farmlands employee said staff had been told there would be "some type of operational presence" in Hawke's Bay.

"They are going to invest money in Christchurch and Dunedin, which is disappointing."

Many staff had seen the writing on the wall and had already left the Hastings office - there had been 120 working there before the merger, the employee said.

"All the ones they wanted to keep, and have given them the ultimatum of moving down south or leaving, have done that pretty much.

"Now we are waiting for the second stage of who they will keep and who they want - where they expect us to go and live if we want to accept a position."

Farmlands released its first post-merger annual report in November, recording turnover of $2.17 billion for the year to June.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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