CountrywideFarmers one of the UK’s leading suppliers of products, services and advice to the rural community has announced that like for like Group Turnover is up2.2% at 138.8m (2013: 135.8m) in the six months to 30 November 2014.
Retail and agricultural revenue are both up 0.7% and 3.4% respectively. However the LPG business turnover has fallen 4% to 6.6m, attributed to another warm autumn. Customer numbers have continued to increase and margin shave been strong. The business continues to trade in line with expectations.
Commenting on the first 6 months of trading, Chairman Nigel Hall, said, 2014 has been a challenging but key year in the development of theCountrywide business. It is pleasing to report that, given all of those challenges, the like for like turnover for the group has increased and the remaining business areas are well positioned for future growth.
Referring to Countrywides disposal of its Livestock Feed and Forage, Arable products andCrop Marketing businesses Mr Hall emphasises that the significant cash generation of 18.1m will drive growth throughout its network of retail stores across England and Wales, its Energy business which supplies bulk LPG and bottled gas to the rural community and its Turf and Amenity business which continues to develop a strong market position.
Commenting on Countrywides strategy JohnHardman, Chief Executive Officer said, As part of our new retail strategy to drive improvements in margin and extend the store network, we will be expanding into new regions and opening at least four new stores in 2015. We are delighted that the retail strategy will be driven by recent Board appointment of AndrewWebb who as Chief Commercial Officer, comes with an excellent retail background.
We remain committed to UK farming, supporting farmers with 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 and to grow the business into a leading multichannel supplier to the UK’s rural community.
The business is well advanced in implementing Project Fusion, a new operating platform which will support Countrywides ambition to become the leading multichannel Country store business in the UK.On schedule, the new platform will enhance customer experience and make it easier for them to access the products they need, as well as driving efficiency across the business.
The Board is committed to deliver long-term growth by building a stronger, more profitable and focused business, concludes Mr Hardman. Back in 2013, we announced the Boards intention to seek an AIM listing and I can confirm that this remains a longer term strategic objective of the business.