Machinery News

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Exclusivity agreement to benefit customers

Claas UK has formed an exclusivity agreement with Lemken

Claas UK has formed an exclusivity agreement with Lemken, in which its dealers for the east of England will offer cultivation, sprayer, and drill products only from the manufacturer. David Williams reports. Pictured at the Sinderby branch are (l-r) Seward Sinderby branch sales manager Jeremy Preece, Marsh Markham Moor depot sales manager and group Lemken brand specialist Richard Sharman, Lemken area sales manager Craig Brown, Paul Creasy, and Lemken support manager Richard Dixon.Lemken was founded in 1780 and has been owned by seven generations of the Lemken family. Viktor Lemken and his daughter Nicola run the company jointly, and produce 15,000 machines per year.The first Lemken plough was produced in 1804 and the company remains one of the leading manufacturers, although during the past few decades’ sales of stubble cultivation machinery and power harrow drill combinations contribute almost equally to company turnover.High sales growth in recent years made 2013 a record year for the business with more ploughs delivered to farmers in the UK than during any of the previous 20 years.Family-owned Claas celebrated its centenary last year, and is also enjoying strong sales, under the leadership of Cathrina Claas-Mhlhuser, granddaughter of the company’s founder. Having been awarded Tractor of the Year for 2014, the Axion 800-series machines have proved popular along with the latest Arion, Axos and Xerion models.Sales of the company’s market-leading combines, forage harvesters, balers, mowers, rakes and tedders are also increasing and considerable investment has been made in the company’s dealer network including an extensive programme of depot replacement and refurbishment.Claas UK owns a number of its dealers in the UK including Western Harvesters, which incorporates the Vaughan and Mill Engineers branches, and Eastern Harvesters including the Marsh and Seward brands serving the east from Cambridgeshire to North Yorkshire.The exclusivity agreement has been in place at Western Harvesters for several years as well as at many independent Claas dealers including Sellars, Gordons, Rickerby, Morris Corfield and Hamblys, and has proved very successful for Lemken, the dealers and their customers, because of the enhanced service which has resulted.”It is much more efficient to stock one brand than several competing brands,” explained Claas retail director Richard Vaughan, “There is better efficiency of scale because the sales staff can concentrate on one brand, the service staff can be trained more thoroughly and regularly and the stock and parts holding for that brand can be increased providing better availability for users.”Notice was given to the competing brands represented by the Marsh and Seward brands in early January and, at the same time, existing Lemken dealers in the area were also terminated. Lemken stock started arriving at the Claas depots by mid-January.Sales, service and parts staff attended training at Lemken’s Alpen, Germany headquarters during January, ensuring they have the product knowledge to look after new and existing Lemken customers from the outset.Training at Lemken’s Alpen, Germany headquarters was provided in mid-January for Marsh and Seward sales, service and parts staff. Dealer staff are pictured with Lemken representatives.”Our increasing product range has allowed users to benefit from Lemken technology and service for all aspects of arable crop establishment and pesticide application,” said Lemken UK general manager Paul Creasy.”In many areas, our increased offering has fulfilled the needs of existing dealers. However, there are some areas where existing dealers have strong relationships with other suppliers of cultivation and spraying equipment and in these areas it has been difficult for us to support our customers to the standard we desire. Our agreement with Marsh and Seward will solve this problem for us.”Power harrows are an important part of Lemken’s range and the company says these provide a good example of the problems which can result from multi-franchise arrangements, as it has struggled to find existing dealers willing to promote its brand, despite Lincolnshire being an area in which these machines are widely used. The same is true for its compact disc harrows which are said to be the best-selling in Europe, but for which there has been a lack of promotion by dealers in the eastern counties.Paul believes the brand’s representation by Marsh and Seward will ensure potential users are kept aware of what is available, and will be confident of the after-sales back-up. “This has been a difficult decision for Lemken,” he explains.”It results in a split from many dealers with which we have worked for many years and, in some cases, since Lemken was first introduced to the UK market. We would like to thank those dealers for their commitment during their time representing the brand.However, our growing product portfolio, combined with some dealers’ loyalties to competitive brands left us unable to serve the region’s customers to the standard we require. This change to our dealer network will result in a higher standard of customer support for our entire product range.”Marsh and Seward are very well-respected dealers in their trading areas and, as Claas dealers, they know the arable users in their region and are used to offering the high standard of service expected by today’s most professional farmers.This appointment will allow us to provide an improved service to all of our customers, whether they choose to run a plough, cultivator, seed drill or sprayer. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with two of the leading machinery dealerships in eastern England,” he continues.The new appointments include all three Seward branches; Catfoss, Sinderby and Wilberfoss, in Yorkshire, and the four Marsh branches; Markham Moor, Nottinghamshire and Brigg, Ulceby, and Sleaford in Lincolnshire, the area covered by the network including Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and north Leicestershire.”Another big advantage of the exclusivity arrangement is that the areas in which we represent the Lemken brand are identical to the area for Claas, so customers have the convenience of dealing with the same sales and service representatives for both brands,” explains Richard.”Claas tractors sales are the fastest growing in the UK, and a consequence is that our dealers are asked for a wider range of implements for use with them. Between the Lemken and Claas portfolios we have a huge range of products available and the dealers will continue to hold franchises for those products we don’t offer such as specialist livestock machinery.”The exclusivity agreement has seen one main brand dropped altogether, where the range was ploughs and cultivation equipment, and some products from another brand; KRM, will no longer be offered although Marsh and Seward will continue to supply and service its spreaders and grass harrows.Some minor franchises will be affected too, where Lemken offers an equivalent for customers.Between Marsh and Seward, sales of Lemken products are expected to account for approximately 25 per cent of Lemken’s total UK sales and the initial stock order placed is for in excess of 100 units, plus a considerable holding of spare parts.Investment by Claas in its dealer network continues, and a new purpose-built depot is due to open in Brigg, Lincolnshire during March, replacing the current premises. The Markham Moor branch is also being upgraded and there is a brand new 22,000ft2 premises under construction on a four-acre site just outside Cirencester, Gloucs, to replace the current Bibury depot.With Lemken’s total sales having grown from 4M to 15M during the 10 years to 2014, and with sales in the UK only exceeded by those in France and Russia, a new research and development facility is under construction at Alpen, with space for 140 design engineers as well as four dedicated development workshops.”Lemken’s company philosophy is similar to that of Claas and the businesses and product ranges complement each other well,” said Richard. “We are delighted by this agreement, believing it will strengthen both brands and ensure the best possible sales and service is available to farmers and contractors in the east of England.”Seward’s Sinderby, Yorkshire depot was the first to gain Lemken branding. “It will be more efficient for our staff looking after the same area for all franchises; explained branch manager Jeremy Preece. “We have a great line-up of tractors and we need a wide range of soil engaging implements to offer.Lemken is well known and respected by users and the feedback we have had already from farmers who have heard about the new franchise arrangements has been very positive. For us the timing is perfect; with staff training just before the Lamma and Yorkshire machinery shows and with stock already arriving we are hitting the ground running.”We have a very good relationship with KRM, and are pleased that we will continue to sell and support its range of fertiliser spreaders, toppers and grass harrows and that will please our customers too. The business is local to us and we have many users of its products in this area,” he added.Talking about the support for existing Lemken machinery users Jeremy said he is confident that Marsh and Seward will be able to provide the back-up required.”While we have had positive feedback from our customers, there are users in the area who bought Lemken products from the previous dealers and who are concerned about the changes.We will be proactive in making sure they know that our teams will provide them with the same excellent support as we do our existing customers. It is a great opportunity for us to meet and work with farmers who are currently unfamiliar with the great service we offer.”


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