Japan Post tells Toll Group to shape up, fast

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Michael Byrne, CEO of logistics company Toll Group, has shared that he is confident in his ability to return the company to profitability, and that Japan Post – which acquired Toll Group in 2015 – has given him orders to “fix it and hurry.”

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review (AFR), Byrne explained that at a recent leadership conference held in Melbourne, Japan Post executive Taneki Ono told assembled senior executives about the need to reverse the Australian logistics company’s fortunes to aid in Japan’s quest to help house those displaced after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“We have a great moral obligation to help relieve those people of their suffering,” said Byrne. “That has now been explained deeply to the Toll management.”

In his first interview since taking over the role back in December 2016, Byrne told AFR that Japan Post was swift and decisive in bringing him on board.

Newly appointed Chairman, John Mullen, had worked closely with Byrne previously, when Mullen ran rail company Asciano and Byrne headed up Linfox. Mullen reportedly recommended Byrne for the position and started a rapid recruitment process.

“I was in Europe [on] holidays and got asked to go to Japan for the day,” said Byrne.

By the end of the day, after being interviewed by five of Japan Post‘s most senior people, he had the job.

Although disappointed with the Australian logistics company performance in 2017, Japan Post is “extremely supportive” of the operation, approving investments into the business, Byrne told AFR.

“If you boil down probably 1,000 pages of strategy, it’s fix it and hurry and get back to what we’re supposed to be doing – which is growing a world-class business.”