27 April 2001
Globalfarmers slashes workforce

By Tom Allen-Stevens

GLOBALFARMERS, which claims to be Britains biggest agricultural online trading exchange, is axing half its workforce.

The Edinburgh-based internet trading platform is the second major farming dot.com this week to reveal that it is struggling to make ends meet.

The company will be left with just 25 staff after laying off its dedicated news team. Much of the development team that helped set up the site will also go.

Globalfarmers chief executive Jonathon Land said: “They are not big revenue earners. We now want to focus solely on what were best at – trading.”

Mr Land said the redundancies represented a streamlining of the 14-month-old business and were designed to ensure its viability and long-term success.

After several false starts, Globalfarmers launched earlier this year with the aim of turning a profit by November 2002 by selling supplies to farmers.

It claimed to have signed up 80 companies and more than 4000 farmers. The company said it would generate income by charging commission on transactions.

Critics say that on-line traders are a non-starter in Britain at the moment because they are searching for margins that are just not attainable.

But Mr Land said he still believes turnover at Globalfarmers will surpass the 1 million of business achieved by the French trading exchange Agrifirst.com.

He claimed: “Overall, turnover is doubling each month. If anything, we should be profitable a bit sooner than we had thought.”

Agrifirst.com, which launched last year in France, announced on Monday (23 April) that it was abandoning plans to launch a similar site in the UK.

Rather than a UK launch, Agrifirst chief executive Mike Dickinson said the company would now spend the next year developing its French market.

“We can run Agrifirst far more efficiently than any existing distributor. The problem is that we simply dont get the right price from the supplier.”

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