New man­age­ment re­viv­ing cheese com­pany

Matamata Chronicle - - Opinion/news - By NI­COLA STE­WART ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

Fol­low­ing a dif­fi­cult fi­nan­cial year and ma­jor re­struc­tur­ing, ar­ti­san cheese maker Kaimai Cheese is mov­ing for­ward.

The Wa­haroa-based busi­ness is un­der new man­age­ment and in the process of de­vel­op­ing a re­vised busi­ness plan that will bring the com­pany into prof­itabil­ity.

Man­ager Dion Silich was ap­pointed seven weeks ago to an­a­lyse the sit­u­a­tion at Kaimai as well as man­age the busi­ness.

Kaimai, which re­ported a loss of $2.9 mil­lion in the March 2011 year, was set up un­der a busi­ness model based on a mar­ket with a high level of dis­cre­tionary spend­ing, said Mr Silich.

‘‘That mar­ket has ob­vi­ously now changed, so we need to re-model the busi­ness to suit the present cli­mate. We are fig­ur­ing out the op­ti­mum point of pro­duc­tion where the fac­tory cov­ers its costs plus makes a profit.’’

In a let­ter to share­hold­ers the com­pany con­firmed the bank would con­tinue to sup­port the com­pany for at least six months while the new busi­ness plan is drafted.

‘‘ There are no guar­an­tees of course. We are not out of the woods yet but un­less we do what we are do­ing there would be no chance of com­ing back,’’ Mr Silich said.

Last year, the com­pany’s pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity and cafe at Te Mata was closed and all South Is­land and ex­port sales stopped.

The Wa­haroa fac­tory con­tin­ues to pro­duce high-qual­ity spe­cialty cheese for the North Is­land un­der the two reg­is­tered trade­mark brands, Kaimai and Te Mata.

The com­pany won three sil­ver medals and eight bronze at the 2012 Cui­sine New Zealand Cham­pi­ons of Cheese Awards.

The cafe and re­tail unit re­main highly suc­cess­ful, and sales man­ager Bryan Win­ter said they were look­ing to ex­pand into catered func­tions.

‘‘It’s a great lo­ca­tion and it’s cer- tainly one of the bet­ter, well equipped func­tion cen­tres in the area. We would like to be­come more com­mu­nity ori­ented.’’

Em­ployee Deb­bie Ruck has worked for Kaimai for the past year and said, while the com­pany had seen some rough times, the new man­age­ment were will­ing to look for­ward and move ahead.

‘‘There’s been a sig­nif­i­cant turn­around, the com­pany is mov­ing in a re­ally pos­i­tive di­rec­tion. I can see a re­ally nice light at the end of the tun­nel,’’ she said.

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