29 Nov 2017

Synlait co-founder steps down as chief executive

10:34 am on 29 November 2017

The chief executive of the Synlait dairy company is stepping down, 17 years after he co-founded the specialty milk producer.

John Penno, the co-founder and former chief executive of the Synlait dairy company.

John Penno Photo: Supplied

John Penno has resigned as the chief executive of the Canterbury-based company, but plans to continue on the board.

The business has about 200 suppliers and recently recorded an annual profit of $38 million.

Synlait chair Graeme Milne said Mr Penno's resignation was part of an orderly transition to position the company for its next phase of growth.

Mr Penno said it was time to move on after "17 years of living and breathing this company".

"I am looking forward to getting back to my entrepreneurial roots and will be looking for opportunities to get involved with start-ups and young companies."

Mr Milne said Mr Penno has been an exceptional leader and would stay in his role of chief executive until a successor was found.

"The new CEO will be taking on a company in strong shape, and with a clear vision and growth strategy. Synlait has grown from a start-up in the early 2000s to a highly profitable company listed on the NZX and ASX, with a team of 600 staff, a blue chip set of customers focused in the infant formula category, and committed farmer suppliers.

"It is currently earning annual revenue of $759 million and has a market capitalisation of over $1.3 billion."