The a2 Milk Company boss David Bortolussi has continued to build his executive team, adding Amanda Hart as the baby formula’s chief people and culture officer.
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A2 Milk chief executive David Bortolussi makes another key hire.

Ms Hart will join from Dyson Appliances, where her most recent role was head of human resources, Australia and New Zealand. She spent the past four years there as a senior human resources leader across several Asia Pacific markets with a focus on leadership development and organisational change.

The baby formula company said prior to her time at Dyson, Ms Hart held senior human resources roles with Cotton On clothing and Global Radio.

A2 Milk chief executive David Bortolussi makes another key hire.

In her role at a2 Milk Ms Hart will be responsible for driving the people strategy and executing integrated programs focused on continuing to improve its capability building, leadership development, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and pioneering culture.

Mr Bortolussi said Ms Hart’s skills and her alignment with a2 Milk’s culture make her an excellent candidate for the role.
“Amanda is passionate about leadership development and employee experience, and I look forward to her joining the company,” he said in a statement.

Ms Hart, who will take up her new role on September 6 and report to the CEO, is the latest in a string of new hires that Mr Bortolussi has made.

In early July Mr Bortolussi increased his direct reports and reorganised the business into three key units to provide more focus on specific areas: China domestic business, international export business, and Australia & New Zealand domestic business.

New appointments

Xiao Li, a2 Milk’s chief executive for greater China, will report to Mr Bortolussi and continue to be responsible for the company’s China label infant milk formula and other domestic business.

Yohan Senaratne, who joined on July 15 as executive general manager international, will also report directly to Mr Bortolussi. Kevin Bush – executive general manager ANZ – will join the executive leadership team and will also report to the CEO. Danone Nutricia executive Edith Bailey was tapped as chief marketing officer earlier this month.

The former market darling is facing investor unrest after posting four downgrades to earnings in just nine months, pointing to a lengthy recovery. Its last cut to guidance came in May, when it flagged a review of its China business and a blowout of more than $NZ100 million ($92.9 million) in provisions for old stock.

Law firm Slater and Gordon has said it is investigating a possible class action claim against a2 Milk on behalf of investors who bought shares over this period when its shares slumped 62 per cent.

Citi analyst Sam Teeger said in a recent note to clients that a2 Milk’s platform pricing was improving, and the company was working on resolving its excess inventory and the management reshuffle should reduce channel conflict.

However, he reiterated his “sell” call given the company’s ability to drive a material increase in baby formula demand will likely be challenged as many former a2 Milk consumers/resellers may have moved on.

“A2’s ability to reacquire them may be challenging and costly given the resurgence in domestic brands,” he said.

He added that there remains a downside risk to consensus medium-term EBITDA margins, and risks remained elevated around a2 Milk’s ability to renew its state administration for market regulation registration next year. The registration is needed for a2 Milk to sell its baby formula in Chinese retail outlets.

Mr Teeger added that China’s new birth rate policies are unlikely to materially benefit a2 Milk, given any increase in the birth rate is likely to be skewed to lower-tier cities, which are dominated by domestic brands.

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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