JBS imports new boss for Primo

31 Mar, 2015 10:30 AM
Senior manager with US meat giant JBS, Jim Cleary, will move to Australia to head up Primo.
Primo will continue to run as a standalone business with Mr Cleary responsible for 3700 employees
Senior manager with US meat giant JBS, Jim Cleary, will move to Australia to head up Primo.

IRISH-born senior manager with American meat giant JBS, Jim Cleary, has taken up the chief operating officer's role at Primo Group following JBS finalising its $1.45 billion takeover of the smallgoods and retailing business.

Prior to arriving in Australia Mr Cleary was president of international markets at JBS Foods in Brazil, the poultry, pork and processed foods division of JBS.

His division recorded consolidated sales of more than $US6 billion last year.

JBS says its Australian meat business anticipates incremental annual revenue of about $1.6 billion growth and earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $150m as a result of the Primo purchase.

Primo is the market leading maker of ham, bacon, pork and continental smallgoods in Australia and New Zealand and a major importer of pigmeat from Europe and North America.

It has a portfolio of recognised brands including Primo Smallgoods, Hans, Beehive, Hunter Valley Quality Meats and Primo Quality Meats.

JBS took control of Primo on Tuesday.

It confirmed the specialty meat business will continue to run as a standalone operation with Mr Cleary responsible for its 3700 employees, manufacturing plants at Wacol in Queensland, Chullora in Sydney, Carterton in NZ, the Port Wakefield abattoir in South Australia, seven distribution centres Australia-wide and 37 retail butcher shops in NSW.

Primo's Hunter Valley Quality Meats operation, including the Scone abattoir, will be absorbed into the JBS Southern operations which includes meatworks at Tabbita, south east of Griffith in southern NSW; Bordertown in South Australia; Cobram and Brooklyn in Victoria, and at Devonport and Longford in Tasmania.

Mr Cleary, who holds a degree in finance, immigrated to Brazil from Ireland about 20 years ago to run a company specialised in the production and sale of meat-based value added products similar to Primo.

He noted Primo Group was the leading company in this segment in Australia with strong brands and had an outstanding opportunity to expand the JBS business.

"I believe the combination of our shared heritages will create a unique and exceptional company in Australia and NZ, well positioned to add value for our customers and stakeholders," he said.

"I am excited by the opportunity ahead and look forward to working with all of our employees in continuing to serve our customers with high quality value added products and exploring growth opportunities both in Australia and internationally."

Mr Cleary will report to JBS Australia's chief executive officer, Brent Eastwood.

"Jim is the right person to lead Primo through the next stage of growth," Mr Eastwood said.

"His knowledge of key global markets will be important for us as we position Primo Group as the platform for smallgoods exports, in addition to its role as a supplier to Australian customers."

The Primo business was acquired following an agreement last November between JBS and Primo's joint owners, the Singaporean-based private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners and the Lederer family which established Primo in 1985.

Despite strong objections by livestock producers and marketers to losing the Scone abattoir as an independent buyer in the NSW marketplace, the sale was approved by federal government regulators early this year, partly triggering a Senate inquiry into the consolidating meat processing sector.

Primo was bought on cash and debt free basis through JBS Smallgoods Australia, a subsidiary of the Brazilian-based JBS SA.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

is the national agribusiness writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


31/03/2015 2:15:29 PM

wait and watch for the rationalisation of staff and shut down of local business ( commonly called consolidation ). and much less competition for buying Australian produced. ACCC should be proud of its achievement!
The Serf
1/04/2015 7:05:55 AM

Jim Cleary shouldn't get too comfortable - when the "Stockyard and Packers Act" is enacted here, probably after Joyce leaves the ag portfolio, and JBS and Teys are forced to de-merge their feedlot interests and their processing capacity back to a non-monopoly percentage then Mr Cleary may have to work for a new boss or go home.
1/04/2015 8:21:08 AM

Serf, you look like your right about Barnaby lacking gumption to introduce the grass fed levy Senate recommendations. What is going on with Australian Governmnt, how many Senate Inquiries must we have before government actually do something to fix the mess they created by the AMLI Act 1997?
John Carpenter
1/04/2015 10:05:44 AM

This acquisition of course should never have been approved by the keystone cops at the ACCC or the Treasurer. Letting the dominant processor and feedlotter become even more dominant is very bad news for cattle producers and is anti-competitive, in my view. JBS said they would grow the business and create jobs. Well, the first job they've created has gone to one of the boys from Brasil whose annual bonus no doubt will depend on cost cutting and business "rationalisation".
Jock Munro
1/04/2015 2:50:32 PM

According to the urban political elite that run Australia, we ordinary locals are not capable of anything so why would anyone be surprised that a foreigner will run a foreign acquisition. Never mid that ordinary Australians built and managed these assets in the first place. We are well on the way to becoming a third world nation.
Interested observer
2/04/2015 12:49:34 AM

There's a lot of moaning comments here. As far as I knew this business was set up by an immigrant and owned by a Singapoerean Fund. In a free market any of us upstanding Aussies could have bought this business. Who cares what the ownership structure is as long as they are profitable and provide a good outlet for our Ag products. Best of Irish Luck to you Mr Cleary and welcome to Australia
2/04/2015 4:09:19 AM

I had the opportunity to work with James Cleary for many years at JBS Brazil. Jim was always fully committed with the all company policies and procedures. In addition he has great negotiation skills and knows in deep his area of expertise. Jim represents a great acquisition for Primo.
John Carpenter
2/04/2015 5:21:37 PM

Well Interested Observer, I care what the ownership of Primo looks like because JBS has just knocked another bidder for cattle out of the market and made a mockery of Australia's competition laws.The obvious route for the then owners to sell Primo was by an initial public offering on the ASX.We are in a bull market for equities and thousands of investors would have crawled over each other to get a share of this companies brands.It would have ended up as an Australian listed company with Australian managers.But JBS can always pay a premium and get it back from lower cattle prices.


Screen name *
Email address *
Remember me?
Comment *


light grey arrow
I'm one of the people who want marijuana to be legalized, some city have been approved it but
light grey arrow
#blueysmegacarshowandcruise2019 10 years on Daniels Ute will be apart of another massive cause.
light grey arrow
Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who