Westfleisch temporarily under dual leadership

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A selection of pictures of the General Assembly 2021 can be found here.
The image material is protected by copyright. Photos must only be used for press releases within the framework of reporting about the Westfleisch Assembly 2021. Reference: Westfleisch SCE.


15. June 2021

Münster, 15 June 2021. The Executive Board of Westfleisch has temporarily been reduced from three members to two. At today’s general meeting, Chairman of the Supervisory Board Josef Lehmenkühler reported that the meat marketer and the Member of the Executive Board Steen Sönnichsen decided to go separate ways. “In the past three and a half years, we have been able to achieve a great deal together, and accordingly we are very grateful to Steen Sönnichsen.

As a result, the cooperative is well equipped for the challenges of the months and years ahead, however these “will certainly not be easier – quite the opposite in fact,” stressed Lehmenkühler. “In this situation it is imperative that our company management agrees about how and in what way we want to shape the future of our cooperative.” Steen Sönnichsen’s ideas have continued to diverge from those of the others over the past few months. “While this is regrettable, it is nothing unusual,” explained Lehmenkühler. “It is a mark of progress, something that happens time and time again in companies. However, when a consensus is no longer given, it is best to part ways.” Lehmenkühler wished Sönnichsen “all the very best” for the future, both professionally and personally. Sönnichsen’s role will initially be shared between his former fellow board members, Carsten Schruck and Johannes Steinhoff. The long-term aim is to appoint a third member to the Executive Board.

“Challenges of 2020 handled adeptly”
At the general meeting, Chief Financial Officer Carsten Schruck reported that Westfleisch had “handled the challenges of 2020 adeptly.” In fact, slaughter figures departed from the negative industry trend with totals of around 7.5 million pigs and around 436,000 bulls, cows and heifers slaughtered. Sales rose by 1.3 percent compared with 2019 to 2.83 billion euros. Furthermore, despite higher additional costs due to the coronavirus pandemic and African swine fever, the cooperative’s annual net profit only fell by 2.6 million euros to 8.1 million euros. This dividend of 4.2 percent on their credit balances will also benefit the cooperative’s around 4,800 agricultural members and shareholders, when received in addition to special bonuses, as determined by the meeting.

Unsatisfactory start to the year
At the general meeting, Schruck and Steinhoff reported that the “start of 2021 was rather unsatisfactory” in economic terms. “The closed hotels and guest houses, the empty canteens and the tricky export situation put significant pressure on our sales,” said Johannes Steinhoff. While the food retail trade continues on a steady course, it falls far short of offsetting the negative trend. The rainy spring and the limits on contact due to the pandemic ultimately led to an almost complete loss of the barbecue business, while cost increases placed further strain in many areas.

“But there are points that give us cause to be optimistic,” emphasized Schruck. “The third wave of Covid-19 has broken, the gastronomy and hospitality trades are gathering pace, the weather is improving, and the barbecue trade will pick up.” Still, it is clear that “this year will be even more challenging than 2020. But knowing as we do the strength of the entire Westfleisch team, we look forward with confidence to the months ahead!”