Andrew Forrest visits Harvey Beef and meets staff for first time since buying the business. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian.
Andrew Forrest visits Harvey Beef and meets staff for first time since buying the business. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian.

Andrew Forrest is on the hunt for a chief executive to run Harvey Beef just weeks after buying WA's biggest beef processor and exporter.

Mr Forrest's Minderoo Group is preparing to invest millions of dollars to increase capacity at the abattoir to satisfy growing domestic and overseas demand.

It is understood current Harvey Beef chief executive Michael Hughes has been commuting between WA and his home in Tasmania.

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Minderoo is understood to believe the arrangement is not in the best interests of its expansion plans. Mr Hughes can apply for the job based on the expectation that the chief executive lives nearby.

Industry insiders believe Minderoo could need to make an initial investment of up to $20 million to upgrade the facilities, which supply Coles and about 30 overseas markets with premium beef.

WA cattle producers and staff have welcomed Mr Forrest's commitment to build the business after it was starved of investment in plant and equipment under previous owner Pacific Alliance Group.

Harvey Beef, which has about 300 employees, is also about to enter negotiations on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Mr Hughes joined Harvey Beef as chief operating officer early last year after a long career running eastern states abattoirs.

He took the reins as chief executive in September following the retirement of Mike Jackson.

Harvey Beef is also looking for experienced boners and slicers. It relies heavily on 457 visa workers and regularly visits the Philippines on recruitment drives.

The West Australian

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