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Blackmores’ new CEO reveals strategy to boost Australian business

Blackmores’ recently-appointed chief executive Alastair Symington has highlighted the importance of rejuvenating the Australian business in order to drive international growth.

Symington, who took up the role in mid-September, said that while Asia, BioCeuticals and PAW have seen positive growth, the company has been unable to generate consistently high margins and has struggled to balance investment priorities.

“The reality is that we are experiencing unprecedented levels of competition and retailer demands. We operate in a dynamic industry where consumer expectations and competitive forces are constantly evolving,” Symington said in a letter to shareholders on Thursday.

He described the Australian vitamins and supplements market as ‘flat’ and said that it is Blackmores’ responsibility as the market leader to find ways to drive category growth.

“We will do this by best understanding consumer and practitioner needs, developing a well-defined brand and customer value proposition and executing with excellence by best leveraging our assets,” he said.

“At the same time, we must respond to pricing pressures and the changing retail environment by reducing costs and improving our revenue management practices.”

In China, Symington is focused on expanding reach, and building the business around a multi-channel consumer-based offering.

“Whether shoppers buy from cross border e-commerce, domestic e-retailers or in the traditional trade, we must be in-tune with the consumer journey. Our ability to do all of this while driving down consumer cost-per-acquisition will be key.”

Symington reiterated that first half performance will be at a similar level to the previous year and expects increased ingredient and raw material costs will impact gross margins.

He also announced changes to management, with Ayumi Uyeda from Bayer joining the business as managing director for Australia and New Zealand in 2020.

Kitty Liu has been appointed managing director for China, effective 1 December, bringing 25 years’ industry experience with giants such as Reckitt Benckiser, Yum! and Unilever across China and Japan.

While Dean Garvey, the current deputy MD of Asia, will be promoted to MD for Blackmores International, after five years with the business.

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