Raewyn Bleakley will be the new Chief Executive of the New Zealand Food & Grocery Council, replacing Katherine Rich who is stepping down after 13½ years.

Raewyn is an experienced and successful senior leader who has worked across and within government for more than 20 years, 6½ years of them in chief executive roles at various industry associations.

Her most recent position was three years as one of five Deputy Chief Executives at Fire and Emergency NZ for three years where she was responsible for leading the Office of the Chief Executive. Before that she spent two years as General Manager Governance, Communications and Stakeholders, and three years as Region Director Central New Zealand at Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency).

Her experience in member associations has been extensive. She started her career as New Zealand a Regional Manager for the Hospitality Association and was appointed the first National Operations Manager, before taking on the dual roles of Chief Executive of Bus and Coach Association NZ and the Rental Vehicle Association of NZ. In 2012 she was appointed Chief Executive of Business Central, incorporating Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

Raewyn has extensive governance experience, including directorships on the transport Industry Training Organisation Tranzqual, Motor Industry Training Organisation, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry Board and Management Committee, and Wellington Zoo Trust (where she also was Deputy Chair and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee).

Food & Grocery Council Chairman Mike Pretty says Raewyn will bring a wide diversity of experience and skill to the role. “As she says herself, she has big shoes to fill after Katherine, and that’s true, but we are more than confident she will bring experience and skills to take the grocery supplier sector forward.”

He paid tribute to Katherine’s time at FGC.

“She has changed the face of the grocery sector, using her skills along with the connections she acquired during her nine years in Parliament as an MP to turn the council into a voice and a force to be listened to when it came to legislation and regulation affecting the food and grocery industry.

“Her achievements are too many to list, but she will leave before the greatest of all of them all – and perhaps the biggest change in the history of the grocery supplier industry – is implemented: the grocery code of conduct that will change the way suppliers are treated during negotiations.

“The sector, in particular the supplier sector, owes her a debt of gratitude.”

Raewyn will begin on Monday October 10.

She says she is privileged to be taking over the helm of the Food & Grocery Council at such an important stage in its history.

“There are big changes coming for the sector, and particularly suppliers, and I feel deeply privileged and very excited to be joining the Food & Grocery Council at this time.

“I’m also honoured to be following in the footsteps of Katherine, who has achieved such a massive amount for the food industry and its members, and particularly her recent work around the Grocery Market Study and the Code of Conduct.

“They’re really big shoes to fill but I’m looking forward to the challenge of bringing my diverse work experiences together along with my commitment to sustainability and background in food and nutrition to continue the Council’s advance across those and other fronts.”