FARMER-OWNED supply and retail business Mole Valley Farmers has announced an improved performance in 2004, with turnover exceeding £100m for the first time.

The Devon-based group, which supplies farm inputs along with its chain of rural retail stores, saw operating profits hit £2.5m on the back of £126m turnover.

The group‘s 30,000 existing shareholders saw net assets rise by 13% to just under £19m. Better performance also helped to attract more than 1000 new shareholders to the business.

SCATS Countrystores, part of the group‘s rural retailing division, received a boost with a new £3m flagship retail site, which opened at South Molton in March 2004.

Ranald Fowler, dairy farmer and chairman of Mole Valley Farmers, said the company would focus on improving efficiency, while maintaining quality products and services to farmers staying in food production.

“Despite reduced margins on agricultural inputs, the group achieved its objective of meeting shareholders‘ and members‘ expectations while maintaining growth and profitability,” he said.