Dividend up at AF Group after costs slashed

The UK’s largest agricultural purchasing group has announced it is increasing the dividend it pays to its shareholder members this year.

AF Group, formerly known as Anglia Farmers, will distribute a total of £600,000 between its 3,000 farmer shareholders after increasing its total dividend payment by some £80,000 in 2017-18.

The group, which sources 10% of all of the UK’s farm inputs, grew turnover by 9% to £254.5m, up from £234.2m the year before.

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Pre-tax profits before payments to members came in at £1.2m, up from from £765,000 in 2016-17.

The company stripped £500,000 of costs out of the business in the past year, reducing staff from 134 to 120, and cutting sponsorship, marketing and third-party spending.

AF chief executive, Jon Duffy, said the results were an encouraging start to the group’s five-year strategy, launched in September 2017, which is targeting improvements to membership numbers, the balance sheet, and financial returns to members.

“We’re moving into a position where we can be confident of withstanding market volatility and agile enough to avoid issues as they arise – as well as provide all our members with real value for money,” he said.