A major customer of the sharemarket-listed company whose chief executive called New Zealand chef and My Food Bag co-founder Nadia a “bit of Eurasian fluff” says it is seriously concerned and wants answers.
International water treatment and chemical distribution company Ixom said it was “communicating its serious concern” about the conduct of DGL Group chief executive Simon Henry to the DGL board.
It was aware of the comments made about Lim and shared the view of the DGL board that they were inappropriate, unacceptable and offensive, Ixom said in a statement in response to questioning by the Herald.
“Ixom is communicating its serious concern about Mr Henry’s conduct to the DGL board and is seeking further information from the Board about DGL and Mr Henry’s response.”
Meanwhile, the Australian PR company enlisted to speak on behalf of the NZX and ASX-listed chemicals company board declined to answer further questions about Henry’s conduct.
“Mr Henry remains the chief executive, Peter Lowe is still the chair of the board and Denise Brotherton remains a non-executive director,” Sefiani Communications director Nick Owens told the Herald.
“All I can say in response to your questions is that the board reiterates that Mr Henry’s comments about Nadia Lim were offensive and unacceptable. We note that Mr Henry has issued a written apology to Ms Lim (which has been sent to her by courier) and hopes to speak with her in person, at her convenience.”
As at Monday, Lim said she had yet to receive an apology – in any form.
The PR firm, which in response to Herald questions said it was working with the board, not Henry, said “Mr Henry called Ms Lim’s mobile several times earlier Friday afternoon to apologise in person. After he was unable to get through, he couriered a written apology to her”.
Henry has not responded to requests for comment. Lim says she never received any calls.
“Simon still hopes to speak with Ms Lim in person, if and when it suits her,” the PR company said.
DGL’s share price on the NZX closed down 14.8 per cent or 57c at $3.28 on Monday.
The PR company did not respond to Herald questions about how the board reconciled Henry’s comments with DGL Group’s listing prospectus on its policies on diversity, code of conduct for directors and senior managers or shareholder communications.
Henry, who owns 57 per cent of DGL Group which listed last year, ignited a firestorm when he compared the success of My Food Bag and DGL’s listings last year in an interview with business publication NBR.
Concluding an “ugly board” had had a more successful result, he reportedly said: “I can tell you, and you can quote me, when you’ve got Nadia Lim, when you’ve got a little bit of Eurasian fluff in the middle of your prospectus with a blouse unbuttoned showing some cleavage, and that’s what it takes to sell your scrip, then you know you’re in trouble.”
The photo of Lim, who co-founded My Food Bag, but was not on its board at listing last year, showed no cleavage and her camisole top had no buttons in the photo at a BBQ representing her ambassador’s role.
On Friday night, New Zealand time, after three days of silence and ignored media requests for a response – considered extraordinary for a public issuer with sharemarket investors -the board through PR firm Sefiani issued a statement.
“Mr Henry agrees and has expressed genuine regret for his comments. He has apologised to Ms Lim. Understanding also that his comments are contrary to the culture of respect, diversity and inclusion encouraged and expected at DGL Group, Mr Henry has apologised to DGL’s board, staff and, by extension, to other stakeholders for any offence caused,” the statement said.
It said the board had “conveyed its deep disappointment to Mr Henry” and his comments were “completely inappropriate, unacceptable and offensive”.
The PR firm statement said the board had determined there would be no repeat of this incident and steps would be taken to prevent a repeat.
The Herald asked what those steps would be.
“They won’t be commenting on what the steps might be at this point.”
An influential chemical sector participant who declined to be named said DGL’s reference listing in the sector was being reviewed.
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