2 April 1999

Debutants aim to reverse sales downturn in UK

By Peter Hill

CONTINUED re-structuring of farm machinery firms in light of the current downturn in equipment sales is bringing new and unfamiliar names to the market.

At Worcs-based Lawrence Edwards, managing director Steve Evans has decided to consolidate the companys product range by focusing on the Quicke loaders the firm has sold in Britain for many years.

Import agreements to handle Orkel balers, Gaspardo seed drills and Remac power harrows have been dropped and Lawrence Edwards has also severed links with Envoy Design & Manufacturing, its former manufacturing division.

As a result, says Envoy managing director Sean Blanco, the company has, for the first time, taken on the task of selling the farm equipment it makes. Products include the Supa-Pac range of round and square bale wrappers, bale handling attachments for loaders and the Combi-Cult combination seed-bed cultivator.

Envoy has extended the Combi-Cult range, which was previously topped by a 4m (13ft) rigid frame model, to include hydraulic folding versions up to 6m (20ft) wide.

Lancs-based R E Leach is another company hoping for a higher profile in the agricultural machinery business. Under the Primex name, it is building a range of slurry handling, storage and spreading equipment, and importing bedding straw shredders and diet feeders.

The operation comes in the wake of a receiver being appointed at Lancaster Bros, the Holme-based companywhich produced slurry and manure handling machinery under the Malgar banner. Malgar Limited now continues this from the same premises.

Growing Dutch-based machinery group Netagco has established a sales company in Britain to bring under a single umbrella the increasing range of products made by the subsidiaries it has acquired over the past few years – including Aberdeen-based potato equipment specialist Reekie Manufacturing.

Netagco Sales (UK) Ltd has been formed from sales company Hoekstra Trading and is currently operating out of Hoekstras Boston, Lincs, base until new premises, probably in the Sleaford area, have been secured.

This will handle all Netagco "potato division" products, including harvesters from Reekie, Wuhlmaus and AVR of Belgium; Reekie, Structural and Hassia potato planters; and Rumptstad and Reekie rotary cultivators. Ultimately, these and other Netagco group products are likely to carry a single brand name.

With Miedema elevators and conveyors, and Tolsma refrigeration equipment also in the fold, Netagcos acquisition programme has created a full line of potato equipment.

&#8226 Despite falling sales and a sliding share price, Agcos acquisition campaign continues at full steam – latest buy is Great Plains Manufact-uring, a North American firm that produces seed drills and sprayers.

With fellow US drill maker Tye already in the corporations fold, the company says this move will make Agco the "number one" manufacturer and distributor of seed drills worldwide.

Great Plains disc drills, designed for direct and minimum tillage seeding, have been sold in Britain in recent years by Beds farmer Bob Wallis. No announcement has yet been made over future sales and marketing arrangements. &#42