IRISH-born senior manager with American meat giant JBS, Jim Cleary, has taken up the chief operating officer's role at Primo Group following JBS finalising its $1.45 billion takeover of the smallgoods and retailing business.
Prior to arriving in Australia Mr Cleary was president of international markets at JBS Foods in Brazil, the poultry, pork and processed foods division of JBS.
His division recorded consolidated sales of more than $US6 billion last year.
JBS says its Australian meat business anticipates incremental annual revenue of about $1.6 billion growth and earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $150m as a result of the Primo purchase.
Primo is the market leading maker of ham, bacon, pork and continental smallgoods in Australia and New Zealand and a major importer of pigmeat from Europe and North America.
It has a portfolio of recognised brands including Primo Smallgoods, Hans, Beehive, Hunter Valley Quality Meats and Primo Quality Meats.
JBS took control of Primo on Tuesday.
It confirmed the specialty meat business will continue to run as a standalone operation with Mr Cleary responsible for its 3700 employees, manufacturing plants at Wacol in Queensland, Chullora in Sydney, Carterton in NZ, the Port Wakefield abattoir in South Australia, seven distribution centres Australia-wide and 37 retail butcher shops in NSW.
Primo's Hunter Valley Quality Meats operation, including the Scone abattoir, will be absorbed into the JBS Southern operations which includes meatworks at Tabbita, south east of Griffith in southern NSW; Bordertown in South Australia; Cobram and Brooklyn in Victoria, and at Devonport and Longford in Tasmania.
Mr Cleary, who holds a degree in finance, immigrated to Brazil from Ireland about 20 years ago to run a company specialised in the production and sale of meat-based value added products similar to Primo.
He noted Primo Group was the leading company in this segment in Australia with strong brands and had an outstanding opportunity to expand the JBS business.
"I believe the combination of our shared heritages will create a unique and exceptional company in Australia and NZ, well positioned to add value for our customers and stakeholders," he said.
"I am excited by the opportunity ahead and look forward to working with all of our employees in continuing to serve our customers with high quality value added products and exploring growth opportunities both in Australia and internationally."
Mr Cleary will report to JBS Australia's chief executive officer, Brent Eastwood.
"Jim is the right person to lead Primo through the next stage of growth," Mr Eastwood said.
"His knowledge of key global markets will be important for us as we position Primo Group as the platform for smallgoods exports, in addition to its role as a supplier to Australian customers."
The Primo business was acquired following an agreement last November between JBS and Primo's joint owners, the Singaporean-based private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners and the Lederer family which established Primo in 1985.
Despite strong objections by livestock producers and marketers to losing the Scone abattoir as an independent buyer in the NSW marketplace, the sale was approved by federal government regulators early this year, partly triggering a Senate inquiry into the consolidating meat processing sector.
Primo was bought on cash and debt free basis through JBS Smallgoods Australia, a subsidiary of the Brazilian-based JBS SA.
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