A strategic restructure of Australia’s online wool trading platforms has led to the redundancy of Wooltrade and AuctionsPlus Wool market operations manager Tony Benson and financial controller Debbie Dickson.
During almost nine years with the business, AuctionsPlus chief executive officer Anna Speer said Mr Benson has worked with the wool industry to bring to market an innovative, viable online wool auction that is the most successful Australian platform to date offering regular weekly online sales since August 2011.
AuctionsPlus review leads to restructure
Ms Speer said over the past six months, AuctionsPlus has completed a review of its strategic direction and organisational structure to allow it to become more commercial and strategic in operations and in turn, deliver a better product to the Australian livestock and wool sectors.
“We have a vision to become the primary marketing channel for livestock and wool, to be an integral source of data for the agricultural supply chain and to improve market pricing efficiency, competition and transparency.
“This has resulted in a focus on education, market penetration and innovation which we believe will allow us to deliver a more robust product to market, with value-add for all parts of the supply chain, increasing profitability and market access for all sectors,” she said.
“Unfortunately the restructure has resulted in the redundancy of two roles within the organisation, the financial controller role, filled by Debbie Dickson and the market operations manager role filled by Tony Benson.
“Debbie and Tony have both been long-standing employees of AuctionsPlus and have helped build the business over many years, committing time and enthusiasm into the AuctionsPlus product,” Ms Speer said.
“We will be sad to see them go and wish them well in their future endeavours.”
Tom Rookyard taking over wool roles
Ms Speer said as the market operations manager role has been made redundant, there will be no replacement as such, but AuctionsPlus market operator Tom Rookyard will be taking responsibility of the wool products. Tom is from Berrimah, has completed a Bachelor of Business Studies majoring in agribusiness at Wagga and is currently completing his masters in Agribusiness Management. His father Peter Rookyard is a wool buyer with Australian Wool Exporters.
”Tom has always played a role in the wool industry with his family breeding Merino’s for a number of generations,” Ms Speer said.
Ms Speer said as part of the restructure, AuctionsPlus identified that it needed skills in the areas of strategic sales and marketing, planning and implementation, change management and education to help us drive innovation and change in the Australian agricultural industry as well as at AuctionsPlus. A new role to develop business and sale penetration will be advertised.
“We need to establish an environment of continuous improvement, growth outside our comfort zone and collaborate with our customers to deliver the best solution to market,” Ms Speer said.
IT focus in restructure
AuctionsPlus has also employed an IT project manager, Rohan Kleem, as part of the restructure.
“He will be driving the technical innovation at AuctionsPlus and has had a history of building start-ups, product development and feature prioritisation.
“We are also currently recruiting for a senior software developer with the intent that the new team members will enable us to release new features and functionality to market faster and better understand our customers’ needs.
Benson drove mainstream adoption of Wooltrade
Mr Benson said he was excited about the next phase of his career. He finishes up at AuctionsPlus on June 15 and has said he is open to new challenges in wool and agriculture.
“There are still many opportunities to enhance how we use technology in agriculture.
“In the past nine years at AuctionsPlus and Wooltrade I have had the pleasure to work with many great people in the industry who gave what we were doing a fair go and that has moved the perception and usage of online agricultural trading to a high water mark in 2015, with more to come,” Mr Benson said.
“I hope to build on my knowledge of technology and agriculture in the future and look at innovations that will assist primary producers to get the best out of their smart phone or computer for their business and family.”
Ms Speer said Mr Benson had driven the mainstream adoption of Wooltrade as a complimentary marketing alternative to auctions by growers, wool managers and wool traders.
“For the first time, the industry could trade online at any time and buy volumes of wool.
“Wooltrade is globally the most successful online wool selling system for volume, participation and acceptance and in some periods, achieving up to 5 percent total market share,” she said.
Wooltrade has sold 405 thousand bales in 14 years of operations with 307,000 bales sold during Mr Benson’s nearly nine-year tenure culminating in 2015, with wool sales totalling $36 million and 6300 bales selling in a five-week period. The ability to give growers the ability to set a target price and manage their risk is key to the success of Wooltrade, Ms Speer said.
“Tony championed the July recess sales which operate during a traditionally dormant period in the physical auction roster.
“These sales were seen by many as a challenge, but we received strong support from wool growers and wool buyers who traded online from anywhere including their office or Noosa or China and to top it off, the market has improved during our recess special sales,” she said.
“These sales proved that volume can be traded online and into a rising market.
Ms Speer said the Wooltrade and AuctionsPlus Wool businesses are primed for action.
“Tony has maintained a robust platform and a consistent clientele and we will be continuing business as usual.”