Oakes Bros, a dealer which sells Case, New Holland and JCB equipment, across Berks, Hants and W.Sussex, is undergoing a significant restructuring of its business.


The firm is planning to close five of its seven agricultural depots in the south of England, consolidating its operations at its two remaining branches, East Ilsley and Horsham, and opening a “super-depot” at Micheldever, Hants.


Oakes Bros says that the new depot will accommodate the current activities of the Stockbridge, Wickham and Alton depots, while the Reading and Hungerford depots will be absorbed into the existing East Ilsley depot, near Newbury.


Oakes Bros managing director, Edmund Lindley, explained that the restructuring was necessary to ensure the business’ sustainability in the current economic climate.


“Over the last few years the whole agricultural sector has faced intense economic pressure, like many rural businesses we have needed to reassess and restructure our operations to meet the requirements of the future marketplace.”


Mr Lindley also pointed out that as agricultural machinery becomes larger and more sophisticated, it is no longer economic to maintain state of the art service centres at small depots.


As regards timing of the new depot opening the firm has moved in already but has some construction work to complete before an official opening at the end of May or early June.


Mr Lindley says that Oakes Bros new site at Micheldever will still carry the three brands that the firm is known for, namely Case IH, New Holland and JCB.


“The new depot will carry all three brands but with significant division in place, we have separate sales and service teams dedicated to each of the individual brands.”


He adds that by the end of the year the same approach of multi-branding will apply to the Ilsley depot.


Customers worried about service should be put at ease by Mr Lindley’s claim that standards will be maintained and even improved.  .


“Part of the strategy involves Oakes Bros investing heavily in equipping staff with new mobile service vehicles to enable them to carry out more on farm work, we actively encourage customers to contact us with any concerns they may have.”