Countrywide Farmers has announced the disposal of itsLivestock Feed and Forage, Arable Products and Crop Marketing businesses for atotal combined consideration of 18.5m.
This has been adifficult decision, said John Hardman, Countrywide Farmers ChiefExecutive, and comes at the end of asignificant strategic review of how best we can deliver sustainable improvementin shareholder value.
Like UK farming, the Agri supply industry is rapidlyevolving to cope with the changing global market and the challenges andopportunities this brings. To compete requires significant investment to createeconomies of scale and cost efficiencies and in the long term a moresustainable UK supply trade.
We have concluded thatCountrywide Farmers can best serve its customers and shareholders by investingin our Countrystore network and multichannel platform rather than our direct tofarm business, continues Mr Hardman. Ourfarm trading businesses have built a strong relationship over the years andthis is reflected in the acquiring companies who are all market leaders intheir own right. They have been carefully selected by the Countrywide Board asbeing, we believe, the best fit for our customers and staff alike.
TheLivestock Feed and Forage business, comprising compound and alternative feeds,fertiliser and forage seeds, is being sold to ForFarmers. The Arable business,which sells crop protection and cereal seed products is being sold toHutchinsons and terms have been agreed for the sale of the Crop Marketingbusiness to Openfield.
TheCountrywide teams within these businesses will transfer to the respectivepurchaser. The Countrywide Board believes the acquiring businesses will providelong term stability and wider career opportunities for the Countrywide teams aswell as supporting them with the best products and service for their customers.Overall the sale of these businesses will affect around 80 staff.
Thedisposals will allow the Company to focus and invest in their Countrystoreretail network of 53 stores across England and Wales, its Energy business whichsupplies bulk LPG and bottled gas to the rural community and its Turf andAmenity business which is developing a strong market position. The Directorsbelieve that Countrywide holds a competitive advantage in these areas and thatthese three businesses have the potential to deliver long-term growth.
As announced in the Annual Report published in August2014 a strategic review of its retail business, led by Berkley Partnership, hasdemonstrated a clear path for Countrywide Farmers to become the leadingmultichannel Country store business in the UK. The net funds received fromthese disposals will provide the financial resources to deliver this strategy,including the implementation of Project Fusion which will provide the operatingplatform to support this ambition.
We remain committed to UK farming,says Mr Hardman supporting farmerswith over 7,000 agriculture products available in store, catalogue and on line,all reinforced by a dedicated field sales team. Our new focus and ability to invest will ensure we are well positioned to execute our strategy andto grow the business into a leading multichannel supplier to the UKs ruralcommunity.
I would like to thank allthe staff who have worked within the businesses that we are selling. We are very grateful for their contributionand I sincerely hope that they will thrive following this new step for thosebusinesses, concludes Mr Hardman.