Chair of Kerry Co-op, Mundy Hayes, has announced that he is to step down from his role this December at a board meeting of the co-op, Agriland can reveal.

Kerry Co-Operative Creameries Limited made the announcement this evening (Sunday, November 28).

The Kerryman will, however, remain as a director for the next 12 months and has outlined his commitment to working with both the executive, and his successor, to ensure a seamless transition.

In a statement issued this evening, Hayes reflected on the situation at the co-op in 2016 when he was elected.

The longstanding administrative and secretarial services provided by Kerry Group plc to the co-op had been withdrawn, he said, and the co-op faced three significant challenges

The statement outlined them as follows:

  • The Revenue Commissioners had raised assessments in respect of patronage shares issued in 2011-2013;
  • Arbitration was in train in respect of the leading milk price and the omission of the west Cork co-ops as comparators;
  • Liquidity in co-op shares had become a big issue with the ending of share spin-outs.

But, by October 2017, a successful management structure was in place.

The statement highlighted efforts made by Hayes over the years to draw attention to the poor value that shareholders were receiving for their shares, when compared to the “underlying true value”.

The Share Redemption Scheme, introduced in 2019, was in response to this.

To date, the scheme has processed more than 7,000 applications, releasing a value of more than €400 million.

While acknowledging that the arbitration issue has not been fully resolved, he said that it has “delivered for the milk suppliers with the west Cork co-ops deemed to be comparators”.

The statement referenced “Revenue’s challenge on the patronage shares” which was “successfully dealt with [..] although the matter is now under appeal to the High Court”.

The future of dairy farming in the south west is a huge concern for the outgoing chair but, he said, “a strong co-op to represent farmers is essential” and they “must have have a say in any decisions affecting the dairy industry and their livelihoods”.

Commenting on his decision to step down, Hayes said he is happy that it is the right decision for both the co-op and for him, personally.

“After five years at the helm, leading the board of the co-op in what has been a hugely challenging period, I feel now is the right and appropriate time for change and a fresh perspective.

“While the role has been challenging and demanding, it has equally been an enriching one,” he said.

“Working with my board colleagues and our CEO, our sole focus has been to deliver for our milk suppliers and shareholders, and this I am proud to say has consistently been the case under my tenure as chairman.

“It has been a huge privilege to lead this fine organisation. I will remain an active director of the board for the coming 12 months and will be available to ensure a smooth transition.

I wish the co-op, my board colleagues, our CEO, and my successor the very best for the future.”