The chief operating officer of New Zealand seafood giant Sanford has resigned, citing the need for a "reset" after helping lead the company through the challenges of the pandemic, the company announced Friday.

Clement Chia has been with Sanford for more than seven years, entering the company as CFO before moving to COO three years ago.

CEO Peter Reidie, who stepped in to take over from Volker Kuntzsch earlier this year, said he accepted Chia’s resignation with regret.

“Clement has been a strong and highly valued contributor to our business since he joined Sanford in 2014 as chief financial officer. He demonstrated his flexibility and leadership skills by taking on the role of chief operating officer in 2018. His list of achievements over the last seven years is considerable and he leaves his team in excellent shape.”

Chia will remain in the role until January. Sanford will appoint an interim director of operations while it searches for his replacement.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sanford and the talented people I have been privileged to work with," said Chia. "However I feel I need a period of reset and refresh, after what has been an exhausting 18 months, as I have helped lead us through everything the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown at us."

Sanford has lost a large chunk of its core leadership team since the onset of the pandemic: CEO Volker Kuntzsch resigned in Sept. 2020, followed by CFO Katherine Turner in June of this year.

The company has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and Reidie warned in September that it wasn't over yet.