One of Auckland's oldest charities is changing leadership in an attempt to toughen up in the difficult economic climate.
SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge announced yesterday his replacement would be English-born Garth Halliday, who would take on the chief executive role in May.
Mr Kerridge is standing down after 25 years at the head of the organisation, but will stay on as executive director, acting as the society's chief spokesman and advocate for animals.
Mr Kerridge said the new appointment was part of a drive for the society to become more business-like and meet the demands of a recession head-on.
"We are moving into a new era. It is high time we had someone with new ideas, new directions and probably new focuses. I will focus on [animal welfare] while Garth steers the ship."
Mr Halliday has held senior positions with ICI Pharmaceuticals, Dulux New Zealand and Bayer Healthcare. In his last seven years as head of Heart Children New Zealand the organisation had increased its annual revenue by 300 per cent.
Mr Kerridge's change of role signalled the end of an era for the society, which has grown markedly during his tenure. When he took on the role the SPCA facility had communal runs for cats and dogs and the animals were squashed into glass enclosures.
The council "gasped" when the society placed applications for funding.
"We were considered lightweight. People did not take our work seriously. Animal welfare is now regarded by the community in a much higher level than it was. We are not only a recognised charity but a respected one."
Mr Halliday said he "fully recognised the icon that [Mr Kerridge] had become".
"It would be a sin for the organisation to lose the skills he has brought."
He said the society needed to be innovative to ensure it continued to grow at a time when New Zealanders might be more hesitant in charitable giving.