Passion and partnership are the two main keys to business success, managing director of supplies business AB Agri, David Yiend, told the NFU conference.

“Passionate leadership is, I believe, an essential prerequisite of a successful business,” he said. But having a vision was important too, setting out the financial and business goals of the operation, and giving a clear picture of how to achieve them.

Mr Yiend also believed that partnership and alliances were absolutely fundamental. “Partnerships can deliver scale, supply chain and customer understanding, market understanding and cost reduction,” he said.

Partnerships were just as good, if not better than integration, as they allowed each partner to focus on their core competence.

“Long-term relationships are proving key in many parts of the food chain and I believe they apply as much to relationships forged by farmers as they do to other relationships formed along the supply chain.

“And yet, of our UK farmer customer base, I would describe at best only 20% to be a partnership, 80% transactional. Interestingly, in those partnerships, the margins we generate are lower, but the volume we do is greater.”

My Yiend also emphasised the need for farmers to show more trust, and to challenge their supply chain partners more. “I cannot stress enough the importance of open dialogue, transparency in communication and gaining a real understanding of one another’s vision.”

It was also essential to challenge the status quo in business, to think outside the box and to learn from any mistakes.

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