Wool in a sack© Tim Scrivener

Farmer-owned agricultural supplier and wool grader Kent Wool Growers Limited (KWG) has gone into administration.

The move followed a downturn in both retail and account sales which had put pressure on cash flow, said a statement from joint administrators Steve Absolom and Will Wright of KPMG, who were appointed on Tuesday (15 August).

Draft financial statements to 31 January 2017 show a turnover of £10.7m and an operating loss of £670,000, said the administrators.

See also: Cleveland Meat Company goes into administration

KWG employs 48 staff and offers a wide range of farming services including dairy hygiene and vet supplies. It also has three retail outlets at Ashford and Eastry in Kent and Handcross in West Sussex.

The stores sell farming and rural products including feed, medicines, equine supplies, shotguns and shooting equipment, clothing and footwear, as well as running a fuel brokerage service.

KWG is also an ‘A’ merchant for British Wool in Kent, East and West Sussex. ‘A’ merchants are sub-contractors who handle and grade the wool on behalf of British Wool.

The group’s most recent published accounts are for the year to 31 January 2016 and show an operating loss of almost £85,000 compared with a profit of just over £80,000 in the previous year. Turnover in the year to 31 January 2016 was £10.7m compared with almost £13.2m in the previous year.

Valuation difficulties

The auditors’ report to these accounts states: “The evidence available to us was limited as the accounting system in use was not sufficiently maintained to provide a reliable stock valuation. …we have not been able to confirm the quantities of stock held, which has a resultant effect on the value of the stock shown in the financial statements to the extent that the stock figures is misstated. If it is misstated, profit and net assets would be reduced accordingly in the financial statements.”

British Wool said that the current situation regarding the administration of KWG will not affect British Wool registered producers and that their collection and grading of the 2017 wool clip and any due payments for wool would go ahead as normal.

Any producers with queries should contact British Wool’s Producer Services team on 01274 688 666.

The business continues to trade in the hands of the administrators who are looking for a buyer for all or parts of KWG as a going concern.

“We have received a number of expressions of interest in the business and assets, and so our efforts are focused on achieving a going concern sale which will secure as many jobs as possible,” said Mr Absolom.

“The stores remain open and KWG continues to support the farming community as best it can in these circumstances.”

Kent Wool Growers

  • A co-operative founded by five local farmers in 1920 to earn higher prices for wool
  • Membership in that year rose to 73, and is currently about 4,000
  • Collects and grades wool from south-eastern producers
  • Employs 48 staff
  • Farming services and supplies business
  • Three retail outlets at Ashford and Eastry in Kent and Handcross in West Sussex