25 September 1998

Activity buoyant in the second-hand machinery market

By Tim Relf

SECOND-HAND machinery is meeting a ready demand as farmers – still in the market for essential items – look to rein in spending.

Sterlings drop from its recent highs has also sparked some action in the market, says Paul Claydon of Cheffins Grain and Comins.

"The day felt better," says Mr Claydon of last Mondays collective auction at Cambridge, where 500 tractors were on offer.

The weaker £ prompted the return of some French, Dutch and German buyers. But it still needs to come back a long way yet if others are to be tempted back, says Mr Claydon.

"The Europeans like to buy tractors from this country, but they are stopped by the fact that the £ is too expensive. As soon as it drops, they are on an aeroplane."

Presentation of kit is more important than ever, he adds. With people spot-buying, rather than buying for stock, the one that is best presented is usually the one that gets snapped up. "Kit needs to stand out," says Mr Claydon.

Mike Alexander, of Alexanders, says sterlings strength is also working against the second-hand trade because, facilitating cheaper imports, it sparks better deals on new machines. And second-hand is competing against new for buyers.

Despite the dampened enthusiasm of farmer-buyers compared with, say, two years ago, well-maintained items – particularly the bigger, one-off items – are meeting a good demand, says Mr Alexander. What may be suffering is the smaller, non-essential items costing £250 or less.

He says buyers want kit that has been well looked after, ideally spending its time on one farm. "Its not so ideal, for example, if someone has been running the kit in to the ground for five years, say, before retirement."

Prices were "very pleasing" at the dispersal he held at Comber-ton, Cambs, last Thursday, reflec-ting the relatively young and good-conditioned nature of the offering.

A 1995 Deutz-Fahr 4065 HTS Top Liner combine made £41,000. "Very keenly contested – but it is the Rolls-Royce of combines," says Mr Alexander. The same sale also saw a 1996 Fendt 818 Favorit four-wheel drive tractor go for £43,200.

Dreweatt Neate auctioneer Simon Pallett was also pleased with the prices made by big items at two sales last week. A 1989 New Holland TX36 combine made just over £30,000 while a TX34 of the same make went for just under £30,000. "Both were about 10% over our expectations," says Mr Pallett.

"I though dealers would have been sitting on their hands because they dont want to get caught with stock – but they came to these sales from all over the country."

Andrew Capel, of Robinson & Hall, has seen demand buoyant, with farmers taking advantage of second-hand prices of about one-third to half of their new equivalent.

But as autumn unfolds, and more kit comes on to the market, prices could slip, suggests Mr Capel. &#42