AtlasFram Group, the UKs foremost farmers cooperative, reported strong results for the financial year to 30 June 2013 at its Annual General Meeting in East Anglia which took place on the 21st November. Turnover was almost 190 million, 12.3% higher than the previous year, while a 138,301 operating surplus helped to increase the Groups financial reserves to a record 2,658,850.
Based at Framlingham in Suffolk, AtlasFram purchases farm inputs and markets combinable crops on behalf of 1250 shareholder-members who collectively farm more than 350,000 hectares throughout the UK, enabling them to obtain best value from the supply chain, explains the company.
Announcing the results, Chairman Serena Greenwell stated; This has been another very successful year for AtlasFram, resulting from our innovative, forward-thinking approach, the professionalism, dedication and hard work of staff, together with the fact that we operate transparently and deliver all financial benefits back to members. Our unique area-based funding scheme, which provides a known cost of membership and rewards commitment, has helped membership to grow. During the year 35 farm businesses representing over 10,000 hectares joined us, while existing members increased their commitment.
AtlasFrams unique crop marketing partnership with ADM Direct continues to provide members with the benefit of a worldwide resource at a local, traditional scale. The partnership has produced excellent results and the 2012/2013 season perfectly illustrated the benefits of AtlasFram pools in achieving above-average returns across a range of combinable crops. The tonnage marketed by our members increased to 172,000 tonnes, a six-year high, our pool tonnage increased by 68% to its highest in 10 years and commitment for 2013/2014 is substantially higher. The Corporate LEAF membership continues to encourage members to utilise the unique ADM/Unilever OSR contract, with over 50 farms now on the scheme and the number continuing to grow.
Highlighting individual product areas, Serena reported that sales of crop protection products had amounted to 28.5 million, 27.9 million of fertiliser was ordered, electricity sales increased to 7.4 million (+8.8%) and seed sales were 6.8 million (+23%). The Livestock Departments turnover increased by 5.25 million (+26.2%), the volume of feed purchased went up by almost 20% to a record 99,000 tonnes and the value of animal health products ordered by members was 16% higher. Sales of building materials increased by 0.8% to 4.73 million, while the volume of fuel was up by 4% to 43 million litres and members who committed to the successful Harvest Fuel Pool saved six pence/litre, approximately 10%, compared with the prevailing spot market price.
AtlasFrams fleet partnerships with major manufacturers continue to go from strength to strength, contributing to a 15.5% rise in machinery sales which reached a record 11.0 million. The Group recently renewed its agreement with leading farm equipment manufacturer Case IH, enabling members to benefit from additional rebates on Case IH products over and above those that they are able to negotiate with their preferred dealer. A new finance package provided by Tyson Cooper enables members to spread the cost of new and second-hand machinery.
Framtrade, AtlasFrams wholly-owned non-Member trading business, had another excellent year, its second-to-none service helping to attract 445 new customers, increase volumes and create a record 215,000 surplus.
Chief executive officer, Richard Anscombe, added; We remain focused on being the UKs foremost farmer-owned purchasing/marketing cooperative and an innovative leader in this sector. Our members rely on us to provide totally-impartial advice, save them money on farm inputs, reduce their administrative burden and increase their returns from the combinable crops which they produce. Because of AtlasFrams integrity, trust, transparency and distinctive service, 99% of existing members would recommend us to a non-member farm. During the year we have welcomed as members progressive farming businesses from East Anglia, the South East, South West, Midlands and North West.
The innovative investment which we have made in our member information and ecommerce website has delivered significant benefits. We now lead the sector in terms of online technology and continue to invest in providing the services and information which are important to our members.
Helping them to manage their risk with regard to input purchasing and crop marketing is one of our key roles. The Granular Urea Fertiliser Pool which we announced earlier this year is an industry first and the high level of volatility within fertiliser markets since then has underlined its value to members.
Developing partnerships with like-minded groups who trade ethically for the benefit of their members is central to our strategy and we have increased our involvement with Saturn Agriculture. Comprising AtlasFram, Dengie Crops and Woldmarsh Producers, it provides an excellent example of co-operatives cooperating and allows us to look at best practice in the cooperative sector.
Connecting with and investing in the next generation of members is critical. We have launched several initiatives, including the Next Generation Council which provides a strategic interface between members, staff and directors, and will be instrumental in further developing our on-line technologies. We are also investing in our relationships with colleges, universities and Young Farmer Groups, as well as developing additional training courses and business services.
The recent move to Station Road, Framlingham has been very positive. Our new offices symbolise the forward momentum which has built up within AtlasFram during the last three years, and provide a professional working environment which has energised the team and given us space to grow.
Going forward, I firmly believe that the increasingly challenging business environment facing the agricultural sector will make membership of AtlasFram even more attractive to forward-thinking farmers.