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Rockit Global CEO to retire in March 2025

mark o'donnell rockit

Rockit Global Limited Chairman John Loughlin announced today that Chief Executive Officer, Mark O’Donnell has decided to retire from 31 March 2025.

An international search will commence to find a replacement. The timing allows for the search and good handover to a successor, to be completed around the 2025 harvest and the early sales season for that crop.

Mark O’Donnell joined Rockit in January 2021 on what was intended to be a three-year assignment to take the rapidly growing, branded miniature apple company through its next growth stages. Mark had intended to move on to a professional governance career in early 2024. This plan was agreed with the Rockit board during his recruitment process, but was delayed by a year following the devastating impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.

John Loughlin noted that the Rockit business has taken massive strides forward under Mark’s leadership. “The company has progressed hugely during Mark’s tenure. Rockit export apple sales revenues have grown from $55 million to $150 million, planted areas in New Zealand have been expanded from 470 hectares to 688 hectares, the in-market sales and marketing teams have grown from three people to 18 people and unprompted consumer brand awareness in key markets has lifted from 3 percent to 29 percent. Importantly, brand sentiment sits at a very high 88 percent,” said John.

The significant work done around the rebranding of the company and the recognition achieved for this, including receiving the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business awards, were also highlights during his tenure.

Mark O’Donnell said “it has been a special privilege to lead a business that operates a value chain from orchards, mainly in New Zealand, to consumers around the world. The strong consumer focus reflects an aspiration that only Zespri seems to have achieved in scale from New Zealand.

“In my time at Rockit we have achieved massive growth. This is typified in that one of my first responsibilities was to commission a new packhouse facility that we have now outgrown with two additional offsite packing operations working this year. We have expanded growing into the Gisborne and Canterbury regions. We have built a management team with deep capability and professionalism. All this has been achieved in an environment with the global pandemic, a devastating cyclone and all the vagaries of horticultural production seasons.

“I’ve really enjoyed the role, the people and the challenges, especially those relating to the fast paced growth and the global consumer focus. The breadth of the role and its supply chain complexity have called on all the skills that I have developed in a long executive career in large leading New Zealand companies,” said Mark.

John Loughlin advised that the search process for Mark’s successor will now commence. Mark will remain available after his retirement to assist Rockit as required. “The Rockit business continues to have massive potential, and the enabling steps for the next phases of growth were put in place under Mark’s leadership,” John concluded.