By Sam Fortescue

A NEW COMPANY that claims to be the largest arable business in the UK started trading last Monday (Apr 4) after clearance from the competition authorities.

Frontier combines the grain marketing, arable input supply and agronomy businesses of Banks Cargill Agriculture and Allied Grain and has sales of more than 750m.

The merger was expected to generate efficiencies worth 2-3m a year on a balance sheet described as “easily the strongest in the industry”.

Company chairman David Yiend welcomed the decision from the Office of Fair Trading. “We can now get down to the task of developing Frontier into a business fully focused on the success of UK arable agriculture.”

Managing director Mark Aitchison said farmers would benefit from the company”s bigger financial clout and would not see service suffer.

“Farmers are facing an uncertain future, so it is very good news that Frontier has been put together because it shows a long-term commitment. It is about making markets more efficient for farmers, and more efficient for the industry as a whole, by taking costs out of the arable supply chain.”

The task of restructuring the business to cut costs would not begin for some months, he added.

The news was welcomed by Arthur Hill, combinable crops chairman at the NFU. “The two companies that have joined up have so far given a lot to the marketplace. Anything that gets transparency into the supply chain and increases buying power must be welcomed. If together they can economise on logistics and return more value to farmers, then the merger is a good thing.”

Frontier”s board includes finance director John Thompson, grain trading director Jon Duffy, who was formerly managing director at Gleadell, arable inputs director Charlie Whitmarsh, northern divisional director Kevin Mills and southern divisional director Alistair Knott.