Jim Woulfe, the long-serving chief executive of Dairygold Co-Operative Society, is to step down after more than 40 years with the business and 12 years at the helm. He will leave by the end of this year.
The co-op revealed his departure as it also announced its financial results for 2020. The company posted flat sales for the year of just over €1 billion, which it said was a strong performance given the economic impact of the pandemic.
However, operating profit at the business fell by more than 27 per cent to €26 million. Dairygold attributed much of the fall to asset value writedowns and accounting charges.
It said there was a initially “huge collapse in demand” for its dairy products from hospitality outlets at the outset of the pandemic, but this was mitigated by a surge in demand from retail outlets as customers resorted more to eating and cooking at home under lockdown.
Its international business, concentrated in markets such as Germany, was also affected by the pandemic due a focus on supplying hospitality outlets.
Dairygold said demand for milk was “surprisingly resilient” over the full year.
In Ireland, it processed 1.43 billion litres of milk over the year on behalf of the co-op’s producer members, a rise of 2.7 per cent. Sales were flat in its agribusiness division, with a strong performance in its retail outlets that sell agri-goods to farmers.
“In my decision to retire I believe that the business is in a good place and that now is the right time to pass the baton,” said Mr Woulfe.
John O’Gorman, Dairygold’s chairman, credited Mr Woulfe with leading the company through a period of sustained growth.