Arnold Klein, who took over the position as chief executive officer of Agra as from November 1 is already well underway with his endeavours to take Agra to further heights. “I can look back and take pride in what we have achieved as a team lead by Peter as our CEO and I am committed to take Agra to even greater heights”, Arnold said at the farewell function of his predecessor, Peter Kazmaier.
Arnold is a born and bred Namibian. He grew up on a farm between Maltahöhe and Helmeringhausen and is also a successful part-time farmer. He qualified as an agricultural economist with an Honours Degree obtained in 1991. In his career he gained extensive experience in the agricultural sector, focusing on agricultural policies, production economics, food security and international trade as agricultural economist in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and as Manager: Executive Council Affairs at the Namibia Agricultural Union. With a passion for the agribusiness environment Arnold became well acquainted with the challenges and opportunities within Namibian agriculture through his interaction with agricultural producers, suppliers, government institutions and parastatals.
He entered the world of agribusiness as General Manager of Hardap Co-operative in 1996 and held the position for seven years before being appointed as General Manager: Retail and Wholesale at Agra.
Arnold joined Agra in October 2003 and has served in the position as General Manager: Retail and Wholesale for the period until his appointment as CEO. In this period of 12 years, the Agra Retail and Wholesale division has had to address various challenges and take a number of difficult decisions and drastic steps to ensure the future of Agra as business and important role player in agriculture. The recruitment process for the appointment of a new chief executive officer for Agra commenced in November 2014 and in June 2015 the Board of Directors of Agra announced that Arnold has been selected to fill the position. “We believe that with the great Agra team behind him, he will continue to lead Agra to new heights”, the board stated in a circular on Arnold’s appointment.
The growth of Agra’s Retail and Wholesale Division over the past number of years is evident in the figures. It is also testimony of the leadership of Arnold, and a strong passion for results and the skills to get the inputs of a dedicated team. The net profit of the Retail and Wholesale division increased from N$3, 9 million in 2003 to N$70 million in 2015. The turnover increased from N$320 million in 2003, to N$1, 3 billion in 2015. Since the 2004/05 financial year, the Retail & Wholesale Division has every year exceeded budget expectations and became an indispensible part of Agra’s profit generating business operations.
Besides Arnold’s responsibilities in the Retail and Wholesale Division, he was also appointed to act as General Manager: Livestock for a period of 18 months in 2010 and 2011 in order to stabilise and lead the division through a phase of rapid change and uncertainty, whilst maintaining its profitability and customer base.
Agra is a major role player in the agricultural industry, and through its broad based product range and services, becomes increasingly important to a larger and more diversified client base. The business has grown significantly over the past number of years and invested millions of Nambian dollars in local infrastructure. The upgrade of retail branches has been a high priority on Arnold’s list of objectives and several branches have received major upgrades over the past number of years, with other branches on the priority list for upgrades in the next years.
Agra’s vision under the leadership of Arnold remains to be a resource of growth, living the purpose of creating prosperity and improving quality of life. Upcoming developments that Agra will open in the near future, and the first in Arnold’s time as CEO, will be a new retail branch in Rundu and various DIY depots.
As a person who enjoys long-term planning and goal setting, Arnold already had several meetings with the various divisions of Agra, as well as strategic partners to strategise and plan the way forward for Agra to ensure continuous sustainable growth.
“Agra’s strategic focus and core business will remain our service to the agricultural industry”, says Arnold about Agra’s future under his reign. Looking at the bigger picture Arnold states his main objective as: “Working towards the point where Agra’s value and achievements are reflected in our share price. I want the current share-holders of Agra, who are mainly the agricultural producers of Namibia, to enjoy the benefits of a growing Agra and a growing share price.”