Openfield announces pre-tax profits of £1.8m

Farmer-owned arable trader Openfield has reported pre-tax profits of £1.8m for the year ending 30 June 2010, on a turnover of £481m.

Openfield MD Tim Davies said the trading period covered by the results had been a “challenging market season with flat commodity prices”, and performance reflected the strength and stability of the Openfield business.

These are the second set of results published since Openfield was formed from the merger of Grainfarmers and Centaur Grain in 2008.

“The result – a second profitable year for our new business – demonstrates the growing strength and stability of Openfield. We have the structure and critical mass to meet members’ and end-users’ needs, and we can be pleased with our delivery over this period,” said Mr Davies.

The 2010 financial year also saw Openfield sell some non-core assets – notably the John Loader (Wessex) feed business.

The company chairman, Richard Beldam, said the divestment was part of the group’s long-term plan. “This includes the investment in several strategic developments across the Openfield store network, ensuring it grows and develops, meeting food and farming needs.

“We expect to make similar investment in the current financial year, supporting the network of regional storage businesses for which Openfield has marketing agreements.

“We are particularly pleased to be able to back some major new developments, including new facilities under construction at Montrose for Angus Cereals and by Camgrain at Kettering, and we expect to maintain expansion within this sector in coming years.

“At the same time, we are equally committed to providing our members with a wide range of innovative products that maximise their returns. These increasingly include end-user contracts,” said Mr Beldam.

Openfield’s inputs business – focusing on fertiliser, seed and agrochemicals – continued to perform strongly. “We don’t expect the recent sale of UAP to Origin to significantly impact on our inputs business,” he said.

Mr Beldam said that Openfield was now a secure and stable business. “Our shareholders’ funds of £21m remain one the strongest in the grain marketing sector. Furthermore, net borrowing in the last financial year was correspondingly down at £5.9m compared to £15.1m in 2009.”

Membership has also grown: “We started the last financial year with 2227 members and have seen a further 517 farmers join the business. Staff levels are unchanged on 248 over the last two years,” said Mr Beldam.

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