Exclusive: Reasons behind changes at Ornua as new Chairman takes over

Aurivo CEO Aaron Forde
Aurivo CEO Aaron Forde
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Ornua has announced that Denis Cregan has been appointed the Chairman of Ornua following the resignation of Aaron Forde. 

Having led the Board for six successful years, Aaron Forde has recommended the appointment of an Independent Director to oversee the Board while it is reviewing its governance structures.

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Informed sources had indicated that attempts were being made in the weeks before the meeting to replace Mr Forde in an effort to patch up serious differences at board level which have emerged over the last nine months.

Ornua is the country’s largest exporter of dairy produce, which is sold under the flagship Kerrygold brand. The business is owned by the country’s dairy co-ops and its sales last year totalled more than €2bn.

Ornua’s board difficulties followed the launch by Glanbia of its Truly Grass Fed dairy range in the US last autumn.

This was viewed as an attempt by Glanbia to muscle in on Kerrygold’s share of the lucrative US market, even though Glanbia is an Ornua shareholder and has two board members.

There have been serious tensions at board level in Ornua since the Glanbia move, and efforts to replace Mr Forde must viewed in the context of this dispute, informed sources told the Farming Independent.

Mr Forde, who is CEO of the Sligo-based dairy co-op Aurivo, has been chairman of Ornua – and its predecessor the Irish Dairy Board – since 2013.

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Commenting on the announcement John Jordan, Ornua CEO, said: "On behalf of Ornua I would like to sincerely thank Aaron for successfully leading the Board during a period of significant change and growth.

"Ornua has achieved great success during his chairmanship such as the expansion of Ornua’s global footprint in the US, Germany, China and Saudi Arabia, and the further international expansion of Kerrygold which recently became Ireland’s first €1 billion global food brand."

Denis Cregan joined the Board in 2015 as an Independent Non-Executive Director. He is Chairman of Kerry Airport, a former Director of Tourism Ireland and a former Director of Kerry Group plc.

Denis has extensive experience in the Irish dairy industry having worked in various management roles with Kerry Group plc over a thirty-year period, including Deputy Chief Executive, Chief Executive of Kerry’s Ingredients Division. Denis also worked for a period with the Department of Finance and Grand Metropolitan. He is a graduate of Dairy Science from University College Cork.

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